POWAY, Calif. - A man died following a bizarre chase and crash in which San Diego County sheriff's deputies fired shots and two vehicles -- including a sheriff's patrol cruiser -- were carjacked Thursday morning in Poway.
The incident began at about 4:50 a.m. when deputies responded to reports of a man looking into vehicles parked near an automotive shop in the 13900 block of Poway Road. Within minutes of deputies arriving on scene, the deputies reported that shots were fired, San Diego County Sheriff's Lt. Kenn Nelson told reporters at a morning briefing.
The suspected prowler then fled east on Poway Road in one of the deputies' patrol vehicles, Nelson said. At the intersection of Poway and Espola roads, the man stopped the patrol car, jumped out and carjacked a man driving a black SUV. He then turned and started going west on Poway Road in the SUV. Deputies caught up to him and more shots were fired, Nelson said.
About 100 yards from where he had carjacked the SUV, the man went off the road and down a ravine. Nelson said deputies got to the SUV to find the man dead.
The man was described as white, between 25 and 35 years of age. Deputies found knives, several rounds of loose handgun ammunition and a hatchet with his body. The carjacking victim told deputies the man was armed with a gun. Investigators have not found that firearm as of late Thursday afternoon.
Four deputies were involved in the chase and shooting, and they were not hurt. Per department policy, they are on paid leave pending an investigation. Their names were not released.
It was too early to tell if the deputies' gunfire had wounded the suspect, the spokesman said.
Investigators later found a pistol believed to have been the one the suspect had wielded.
Due to the law enforcement response, Poway Road was shut down in both directions at Espola Road. Westbound Poway Road was closed from state Route 67. East Poway Road was closed from Sunrise Ranch Road.
According to Poway officials, the Sycamore Canyon access gate was opened off Scripps Poway Parkway for residents to access the Garden Road area.
With Garden Road shut down, the Poway Unified School District confirmed that Garden Road Elementary School was closed. Staff members were told to report to the Poway Unified School District offices. Some students who had already arrived early at the school were being supervised until parents or guardians could pick them up in the afternoon.