SAN DIEGO – A suspected auto thief terrorized his neighbor -- threatening the man, pointing a gun at him, chasing him around downtown and ramming his car with a stolen car -- then prompted a police standoff when it was believed he was holed up in his apartment, police said Tuesday.
The standoff ended about 7 p.m. Monday when officers learned the suspect had already fled from the apartment in the 1400 block of Fourth Avenue, San Diego police officer John Buttle said.
The incident began shortly after 4 p.m. in the parking lot where both men live when the suspect arrived in a stolen car, pointed a handgun at his neighbor and began threatening him, Buttle said.
"The victim got in his vehicle and attempted to flee from the suspect," the officer said. "The suspect chased the victim around the downtown area. While driving on Laurel Street, the suspect drove around several vehicles, then rammed the victim in his vehicle."
Police responding to the crash learned of the gun, threats and car chase from the victim, and witnesses reported the suspect had fled on foot after abandoning the stolen car at Third Avenue and Grape Street, Buttle said. Witnesses told officers they'd seen the suspect return to his apartment on Fourth Avenue between Ash and Beech streets.
"Due to the crimes committed in this incident and the suspect's previous criminal history, SWAT officers were called to the scene to put containment around the suspect's apartment," Buttle said.
Nearby residents were evacuated as officers tried in vain to contact the suspect and persuade him to surrender. The standoff ended about 7 p.m. after police learned he had already fled.
Police said they know the suspect's identity but are not releasing his information and expect to arrest him later. Witnesses to the chase, crash or any other part of the incident were asked to call the San Diego Police Department at 619-531-2000.