Suspect dead after chase, standoff on Orange County freeway

The suspect is dead after a pursuit and a nearly four-hour standoff that forced a complete closure of the 91 Freeway in Orange County on Friday.

The pursuit began around 8 a.m. in Corona, where, according to police, officers attempted to stop the driver in the area of McKinley Street and Griffin Way in connection with a domestic stalking case.

Police said the man sped away in a blue sedan and drove onto the 91 Freeway before coming to a stop for unknown reasons near Lakeview Avenue.

The suspect, believed to be armed, refused to exit the vehicle, prompting law enforcement to close both directions of the freeway. Westbound lanes were blocked at Imperial Highway, while eastbound lanes were closed at Lakeview Avenue, according to CalTrans.

91 Freeway Standoff
91 Freeway Standoff

The standoff caused massive traffic jams, with cars backed up for miles in both directions.

Authorities allowed some vehicles to turn around on the freeway and drive on the wrong side of the road to the nearest exit. Two nearby schools, Crescent Elementary and Crescent Primary, were locked down as a precaution.

According to Corona Police Corporal Tobias Kouroubacalis, police communicated with the man via phone call during the standoff. He said the department was in “no hurry to make physical contact” and that officers would only move in on him if there was an active threat.

At about 12 p.m., KTLA’s Chip Yost reported that he heard a “pop” from nearby, but he wasn’t sure exactly what the sound was. Shortly after, KTLA’s Mike Case from aboard Sky5 reported that he saw the man “slumped” in the car and saw blood.

Freeway standoff suspect
Freeway standoff suspect

Shortly after 12 p.m., authorities pulled the man, who appeared to be dead, out of the car. His cause of death was not immediately confirmed, but police said it was not a result of law enforcement action.

Caltrans said the eastbound lanes of the 91 Freeway were reopened at 12:45 p.m. The westbound lanes remained closed into the afternoon, and traffic was diverted onto Imperial Highway. All lanes were reopened by 4 p.m.

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