An hours-long freeway standoff that caused traffic closures in both directions of Interstate 15 in San Diego’s North County ended with the driver being arrested. Before that, he had led authorities on a pursuit that started in Barstow in San Bernardino County.
The California Highway Patrol said the driver – El Cajon resident Ethan Yoffe, 47 – had been sitting in a parked 2004 Saturn at around 5:30 p.m. Thursday outside a home in Barstow. A person called the San Bernardino County Sheriff Department (SBCSD) to report that Yoffe may have been doing drugs inside the car.
When deputies arrived, they tried to approach Yoffe but he drove off in the Saturn.
Deputies pursued him and, eventually, Yoffe drove onto south I-15. Now on the highway, the CHP was called to take over the chase along I-15 at Baseline Road.
The pursuit would continue for nearly two hours, and across two counties and about 130 miles, – until 7:21 p.m. – the CHP said, when Yoffe pulled over on the right shoulder of south I-15, south of state Route 76.
Get San Diego local news, weather forecasts, sports and lifestyle stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC San Diego newsletters.
And then, the standoff.
The CHP said Yoffe was thought to possible be armed with a bolt-action rifle.
San Diego County Sheriff's Department Lt. Chris Lawrence said Yoffe was making suicidal threats. There were some SWAT resources at the scene, but Lawrence said it wasn't a full SWAT response.
As a safety precaution during the standoff, officers diverted traffic along both northbound and southbound I-15 around the SR-76 interchange and Rainbow Valley Road from approximately 8:03 p.m. until 10:44 p.m.
Just after 10:30 p.m., CHP officers, with the help of the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, were able to pull Yoffe out of the car and arrest him. No one was hurt in the standoff and no weapons were found in the suspect’s car, the CHP confirmed.
Sign up for our Breaking news newsletter to get the most urgent news stories in your inbox.