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Chase from Riverside County evolves into standoff outside Rady Children's Hospital in San Diego

Posted at 9:09 PM, Feb 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-20 22:21:21-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- An armed robbery suspect led authorities on a chase from Riverside County into San Diego County Wednesday night, stopped outside Rady Children's Hospital and refused to leave his vehicle, leading to a standoff that lasted overnight.

According to the Riverside Police Department, officers began pursuing a vehicle driven by a suspected armed bank robber just before 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.

While in Temecula, the driver transitioned to southbound Interstate 15 as the California Highway Patrol and San Diego County Sheriff’s Department took over the pursuit.

The driver eventually made his way to Rady Children’s Hospital off Interstate 805 and came to a stop just outside of the emergency room at around 9:30 p.m.

As law enforcement officers surrounded the vehicle, the driver refused orders to come out. During the standoff, the driver called 911 and threatened to kill himself, according to San Diego police.

San Diego police urged the public to stay away during the ordeal, as the law enforcement activity forced an evacuation of some parts of the hospital and a shelter-in-place order for those inside the emergency room.

At one point during the standoff, officers fired flash bangs and pepper balls at the vehicle, but the driver remained inside.

At around 4:30 a.m. Thursday, authorities confirmed that the driver shot himself inside the vehicle and was declared dead at the scene.

By 5:30 a.m., law enforcement cleared the scene and hospital operations were able to resume.

The man was later identified as Rolando Fremista, 53, the San Diego County Medical Examiner confirms to 10News.

The FBI said Thursday night it believes the gunman was a man known as "the masked man bandit." He was accused of four other bank robberies in the last 10 months in San Diego, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.

On Thursday morning, Rady Children's Hospital officials issued this statement: "Rady Children’s would like to reassure families that the Hospital is safe, secure and open for business. Access has been restored to the main campus, including the emergency department. Scheduled surgeries and clinics will continue and parents should keep their appointments. Thank you to law enforcement for keeping our campus safe and to parents and families for their patience and understanding."

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The number is 1- 800 – 273 – TALK (8255).