An armed suspect who led multiple agencies on a chase from Riverside County to San Diego shot and killed himself outside Rady Children's Hospital, marking an end to a tense, hours-long standoff with police.
The man, identified as Rolando Fremista, 53 of Desert Hot Springs, took his own life sometime before 4:30 a.m. Thursday, about seven hours after he arrived outside the hospital.
Deputies in Riverside County began the pursuit when they responded to a call of an armed robbery.
The suspect reportedly drove a black SUV onto southbound Interstate 215 in Riverside County and continued onto Interstate 15 toward San Diego, prompting local authorities to take over, according to SDPD Sgt. Matthew Botkin.
At around 8:05 p.m., the suspect was reported traveling in what was confirmed to be a rental vehicle through Poway and was later reported traveling in Kearny Mesa.
By around 8:45 p.m. the suspect had pulled over in the driveway of Rady Children's emergency room and was refusing orders to exit the SUV and surrender to police. The front-right tire of the SUV was off of the wheel.
After officers observed a firearm in the suspect's possession, police made multiple attempts to negotiate with him but he refused to exit the vehicle.
SDPD SWAT officers had the SUV surrounded with their guns drawn. A law enforcement helicopter flying above was ordering people to stay inside the hospital and stay off of balconies.
SDPD advised people inside the hospital to shelter in place and said anyone not at the hospital seeking medical attention should go somewhere else. Officers don't think the suspect ended up at the hospital on purpose.
When officers heard the man fire a round, they sent a robot to investigate the car. Through the device, they found him slumped over his seat.
A mother who was in the chapel at the Ronald McDonald House across the street from the hospital told NBC 7 she heard the helicopter and sirens before she looked out of the window and saw the police activity. Soon after that, an officer told them to get away from the window.
The lockdown at Rady Children's was lifted after the suspect shot himself.
"Rady Children’s would like to reassure families that the Hospital is safe, secure and open for business," the hospital said in a statement on Thursday. "Access has been restored to the main campus, including the emergency department. Scheduled surgeries and clinics will continue and parents should keep their appointments."
Riverside Police Dept Officer Ryan Railsback said Fremista attempted to rob at least one bank in a "costume mask" before the pursuit.
An FBI spokesperson said Fremista was a suspect in a half-dozen bank robberies since April of 2019. Photos released by the agency show a man believed to be Fremista robbing a U.S. Bank in San Luis Obispo on April 26, a U.S. Bank in Chino last July, and a California Coast Credit Union in Menifee, also last July.
In each of these cases, the man wore a costume mask, sunglasses, gloves, and showed a handgun, investigators said.
NBC 7 learned on Thursday that Fremista served 14 years behind bars for a series of bank robberies in 2001.
The San Diego Sheriff's Department and California Highway Patrol also assisted during the pursuit.
If you or a loved one are contemplating suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.