Suspect in custody after stealing CHP cruiser - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Suspect in custody after stealing CHP cruiser

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - A woman  was arrested Thursday for stealing a CHP officer's cruiser while being handcuffed.

San Diego police say the woman was stopped by a CHP officer at about 2:45 p.m. in Mission Bay Park north of the Information Center for a hit-and-run crash in Toyota Camry earlier that day.

The San Diego Police Homicide Unit is taking over the investigation and says while the CHP officer had the woman under arrest in handcuffs in the back of the patrol car she managed to get behind the wheel.

“She was in the back seat and he turned his head for a second and she jumped over the seat got in his driver's seat and took off in his vehicle,” said witness, Michelle Martin.

Captain Al Guaderrama says the witnesses alerted the CHP officer, “He heard a witness start yelling, 'She is in the front seat of your vehicle.' He saw the suspect actually start the vehicle and saw the suspect pulling on a long rifle that was in the vehicle."

San Diego Police say the CHP officer fired several shots at his patrol car as the suspect took off behind the wheel. No one was injured.

"I literally hugged the wall at the restroom and looked over the corner," said witness Mark Kruse.

After a short high-speed chase on Interstate-8 East to Interstate-15 North onto Friars Road West, the woman crashed into several cars on the road and the chase ended at Qualcomm Way.

“It was really scary for me because I'm only 11 and I don't know what to do,” said Valina Lams.

The young girl was in an SUV waiting at a stop light with her mother when the stolen CHP cruiser hit them.

“I was on the floor in the car and I was just scared and praying,” said Lams. 

The suspect was taken into custody at Qualcomm Way and Friars Road in Mission Valley. Police say a San Diego Police officer fired one shot at the woman.

“Based upon the earlier actions of our suspect pulling on the weapon and driving away in a high rate of speed and also crashing into innocent victims vehicles a San Diego police Department officer fired at least one shot at the vehicle,” said Guaderrama.

No one was injured and the woman was taken into custody and booked on auto theft and assault with a deadly weapon.

Police say the woman had been originally stopped because she matched the description in a prior hit-and-run.

The car in that accident came back stolen from a few days ago. CBS News 8 tracked down the owner of that car in Pt. Loma. John Machado says his car was stolen a few days ago out of his driveway.

“I can't believe this, this is a nightmare, it really is,” said Machado. “The reason I bought that car was to see my daughter and grandsons up in L.A."

The victim was planning to see his family this weekend but now won't have a car for a couple months because it's in evidence.

Police would not comment on protocol for firing the shots by either officer but says since the woman pulled on a rifle inside the patrol car she was putting lives in danger.

The case is still under investigation.

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