To Protect And Swerve: Highland Park Manhunt Leads Squad Car to Telephone Pole
Combining the thrill of the crime scene with the the dry humor of a better than average sitcom, an LAPD sqaud car collided, in full view of local residents, with a telephone pole on the 300 Block of Ave 57 in Highland Park, while in pursuit of a suspect. According to officers and witnesses on the scene, the suspect was believed to have brandished a handgun, fled on foot, ditched his weapon, and escaped into a nearby alley, where he managed to evade capture for nearly two hours.
Officers there were unavailable for extended comment, so presently it isn't clear what caused the initial pursuit, but the event, which began around 2:30 PM on Friday afternoon, triggered a massive police presence - at least 7 squad cars and twice as many officers, while two Helicopters patrolled the skies. The intersection of Ave 57 and Monte Vista was taped off, while extended sections of Ave 57 were blocked by police cars. Eventually, according to one officer willing to speak with me, it was determined that the suspect barricaded himself in a nearby apartment building. After a briefly tense period that wasn't exactly a standoff, the suspect surrendered and was taken into custody around 5:00 PM.
This is only the latest in LA's East Side neighborhoods' ongoing and increasing crime problem (the most notorious being February's Glassell Park shootout), but yesterday's little soiree happened literally next door to my house. I ran out to survey the matter and one thing became clear - As a friend of mine recently noted to me, nothing brings a neighborhood together quite like a violent crime, except possibly a fire, and it was too rainy for that. Instead of fear or shock one might expect, the faces of my neighbors bore smiles, as people gathered together to bond over the fact that someone they might possibly know could allegedly have committed an allegedly serious crime. Large crowds gathered paparazzi-like around the various swarms of officers, gossiping about the identity of the suspect and of course, hoping to catch a glimpse of the action.
Even children. A group of middle school aged kids stood roughly 10 feet away from the largest concentration of cops, kicking a soccer ball around. A group of High School skateboard kids pretended to give exactly not-one-solitary-damn about it, but they suspiciously moved closer and closer to the scene, particularly as the officers pulled out their weapons and approached the area where the suspect was allegedly holed up. Think a hybrid of the fourth of July and Guy Faulk's Day, with a smidge of New Year's Eve thrown in.
Of course, I almost didn't find out. I'm not certain if it was because I was playing GTA 4 at the time the ado began, and simply assumed that the sirens and police copters were in-game sound effects, or if I've grown so accustomed to being woken up at 3 AM by the same, but I have apparently become entirely desensitized, because I ignored the matter until my roommate came home and informed me excitedly that all hell had broken loose in front of our house.
My decadent psychology aside, one thing must be noted. One would assume that wrecking a squad car in front of skeptical locals would result in tremendous loss of face, but officers acted as though it didn't even remotely approach big deal status. They stood by nonchalantly as local children tore pieces from the wreckage to take as souvenirs of the momentous occasion. That said, I'm willing to bet that someone will be ordered to driving school as soon as the paperwork is filed.
All photos by Ross Lincoln, For LAist.