LOS ANGELES – Police have captured a wanted man who climbed onto rooftops in a Los Angeles neighbourhood while armed with a rifle after a freeway chase Monday, and then barricaded himself in a home for several hours. The incident prompted authorities to shut down nearby freeway on-ramps, lock down schools and evacuate at least one as police waited him out, authorities said.
Five hours after the chase began, Special Weapons and Tactics officers fired a gas into the home, and television reports showed the suspect walking out with his hands up and lying face-down on the grass in the backyard of a home with his hands behind his head and two dogs nearby. Seven SWAT officers converged to take him into custody.
Prosecutors identified the suspect as 41-year-old Nolan Perez. A felony complaint for an arrest warrant says Perez was charged with seven felony counts including stalking and criminal threats against his ex-girlfriend between May 19 and June 6.
Perez has multiple prior convictions including for domestic violence, negligent discharge of a firearm and firearm possession as a felon, prosecutors said.
The chase began about 10:15 a.m. when police tried to arrest Perez on that warrant. But he drove off in his red Nissan Altima, leading to a 45-minute high-speed chase along several freeways that ended in North Hollywood, police said.
The suspect was dressed in white and carrying what appeared to be an assault-style rifle. He pointed the rifle at his pursuers several times during the chase, but police were investigating whether he fired it, Cmdr. Andy Smith said.
The man walked through several backyards and at one point climbed onto a roof, jumping from one to another, pacing along the spine and stopping to lean on the rifle multiple times, before climbing down and entering a home, police said. He was believed to be alone inside, Smith said.
Several blocks of the area were sealed off, nearby homes evacuated and a SWAT team called in.
About a half-dozen schools were locked down. Most schools are out of session for summer, but two campuses had a total of about 135 students who would be picked up by their parents, authorities said.
Shortly before 2 p.m., dozens of students from a nearby private school were evacuated to a park to meet their parents, holding hands, lugging backpacks and walking under a freeway overpass. Police guarded them. All lockdowns were lifted about four hours into the standoff, Smith said.
© The Canadian Press, 2014