California gunman killed; 2 wounded hostages found in trunk

5:17 PM, Oct 25, 2013   |    comments
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(USA TODAY) California police killed a homicide suspect and rescued two wounded hostages in his trunk after a hour-long chase and shootout in the Mojave Desert on Friday.

The unidentified suspect, who was being sought for a pre-dawn slaying, posted to Facebook during the chase, which began before dawn in Ridgecrest, about 150 miles north of Los Angeles, Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood said at a news conference, KERO-TV reported. Authorities were still uncertain Friday afternoon about t he number of victims from the incidents.

The man fired a shotgun and handgun at deputies and officers from the Ridgecrest Police Department and the California Highway Patrol. None were hurt.

Several times during the pursuit, the suspect pulled over and opened the trunk of his car, and officers reported seeing at least two people inside.

Officials did not immediately release the conditions of the wounded hostages who were rescued after police killed the gunman about 8:15 a.m. when he pulled over on Highway 395, several miles north of Highway 58. It was not clear when the hostages, a man and a woman, were shot or by whom.

The drama began about 5:30 a.m., when officers tried to stop the driver of a car wanted in connection with an assault with a deadly weapon, which subsequently became a homicide,

A Kern County sheriff's deputy began following the vehicle -- wanted in connection with an investigation into an assault with a deadly weapon that later turned into a homicide -- about 7:10 a.m. in Ridgecrest, said Ray Pruitt, a sheriff's spokesman. The suspect fled and the deputy gave chase, joined by other officers.

The gunman fired "numerous times" at officers and passersby, Pruitt told the Los Angeles Times.

The suspect called the Ridgecrest police and said he wanted to shoot all of its officers but they had too many guns, Youngblood said at the news conference. The gunman then claimed he had a package for them and wanted to "wreak havoc," according to the KERO report.

Police closed a 10-mile stretch of Highway 395 and Kramer Junction in Ridgecrest, and schools were temporarily locked down.

"Everyone is very shook up and concerned in Ridgecrest," Mayor Dan Clark told the Times. "This is a small town and things like this just don't happen here."

Michael Winter, USA TODAY

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