A woman riding in a stolen car with three men was shot and killed by a police officer in El Cajon following a high-speed pursuit early Saturday, officials confirmed.
The El Cajon Police Department (ECPD) said officers first spotted a stolen red Toyota in the 1300 block of E. Main Street around 1:25 a.m. When officers tried to stop the car – which was occupied by four people – the driver pulled over near Walter Way and Main Street.
However, when officers approached the car, the driver hit the gas and fled northbound on Second Street, then drove onto westbound Interstate 8.
A high-speed chase ensued. With emergency lights and sirens activated, ECPD officers pursued the Toyota. At one point the pursuit reached speeds of 90 mph, police said. Officers called for backup from California Highway Patrol.
Eventually, the stolen car exited the freeway at West Main Street and continued across West Main Street to South Pierce Street, which is a cul-de-sac.
As the car reached the dead end, police said the driver made a U-turn, bringing the Toyota head-on with pursuing officers. The suspects’ car came to a halt and an officer again tried to contact the four people inside.
According to the ECPD, as the officer got out of his patrol car, the suspect allegedly drove the stolen vehicle towards the officer. Fearing for his life, the ECPD said the cop fired four rounds at the suspects’ vehicle.
The gunfire struck a woman in the front passenger seat, as well as a dog inside the car.
The driver kept moving, ramming the stolen car into another police vehicle that was approaching the scene. The stolen car then finally came to a stop, police said.
Officers swarmed the suspects’ car and arrested three men who were inside. The female passenger who was shot was taken to a local hospital. She died a short time later from injuries suffered in the officer-involved shooting, the police department confirmed. According to the San Diego County Medical Examiner's office, she was 25 years old. She has not yet been identified.
The dog also died.
The ECPD said two of the surviving suspects were arrested for drug-related crimes. The driver was arrested for attempted murder on a police officer and for evading police.
Investigators said the driver and woman are fugitives with active arrest warrants, though further details on their criminal background were not immediately released.
The ECPD said the officer involved in this deadly shooting is assigned to the Patrol Division and has been an officer for three years. No officers were injured in this incident and there are no outstanding suspects, police said.
The investigation is ongoing. The names of the suspects have not been released.
Anyone with information on this case should call the ECPD at (619) 579-3311 or Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477.