A man who led police officers on a pursuit and instigated an hourslong standoff on Interstate 5 near Camp Pendleton, shutting down the freeway and snarling traffic early Wednesday in the process, fatally shot himself in the head, according to the San Diego Police Department.
The incident began at about 8:30 p.m. Tuesday when police received a call regarding a woman who needed help. She claimed that over a two-day period, her 28-year-old boyfriend had hit her in the head with an ax, strangled her, tied her up inside his apartment and sexually assaulted her.
"While she was being held captive, he told her that he was going to buy a gun and if the police were called, he would kill her. When the man left the apartment, she managed to escape and asked neighbors for help who then called SDPD," said SDPD Lt. Carmelin Rivera.
Roughly two hours later, patrol officers saw a white BMW SUV that matched the description of the suspect's vehicle traveling on northbound Interstate 15 near I-8. Authorities tried to pull the man over but he kept driving northbound, SDPD said.
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Police added that the driver would occasionally stop and threaten to end his life before taking off again.
The chase continued on multiple freeways throughout the county, with responding officers using spike strips in an effort to stop the driver. Eventually, the man stopped on northbound I-5 near Basilone Road, where he refused to get out of his vehicle.
Orange County Sheriff’s Department SWAT officers were called in to help contain the suspect’s vehicle with armored vehicles.
At about 6:15 a.m., the suspect attempted to drive off again, but the armored vehicles stopped him. Before officers could get the man to surrender, he shot himself in the head.
The man was transported to a local hospital where he died. Officers later found a gun in the man's car.
All northbound lanes of I-5 were shut down at Las Pulgas Road around 3 a.m. while authorities communicated with the driver in hopes of a safe surrender. SDPD said the suspect was on the phone with police when he shot himself in the head.
All northbound lanes of the freeway were reopened by 6:50 a.m., police said.
If you are a victim or know someone who is a victim, click here for domestic violence resources in San Diego County and here for the Spanish version. Victims can also call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.