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Murder Suspect Leads Cops on Chase

December 31, 1997

METTLER, Calif. (AP) _ A man wanted in a fatal shooting in Los Angeles was pursued for 2 1/2 hours today until his car gave out in the San Joaquin Valley and he was forced to surrender.

Some 130 miles after the nationally televised pursuit began, the four-door Oldsmobile slowed to about 10 mph on Highway 99 in the Mettler area and the driver menacingly waved a gun from the window.

Six squad cars, doors open and weapons trained on the vehicle, crept behind the vehicle for miles on the rural highway, which was eventually closed in both directions. The vehicle finally stopped at 12:20 p.m.

Officers 30 feet away from the vehicle pointed weapons and ordered the gunman out. At 12:30 p.m. the gunman got out of his car with his hands up and he was arrested.

The man was identified as Jose Sepeda, 25, of Los Angeles, police said.

Police responding to a ``shots fired″ emergency call at 9:48 a.m. at Pineda’s Bakery on Compton Boulevard found a mortally wounded man and saw the alleged gunman driving away, said Officer David Martinez at Los Angeles police headquarters.

``On arrival they saw a man waving a gun and they initiated a pursuit,″ Martinez said. The man allegedly waved his weapon at motorists in his path as he headed for the Harbor Freeway and eventually reached Interstate 5.

The chase continued on Interstate 5 at speeds averaging 60 mph with officers staying at least 100 feet behind the car.

Smoke or steam began pouring from the vehicle as it headed down the Grapevine grade just before noon. It appeared the vehicle was coasting at one point, then it slowed to about 30 mph as the pavement leveled in the San Joaquin Valley.

At one point, the vehicle struck a white van, which veered away from the vehicle and chase cars.

The man shot at the bakery was taken to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, where he was dead on arrival, Martinez said. The victim’s wife witnessed the shooting and the gunman was known to them both, he said.

``It was some type of domestic dispute,″ Martinez said.

The chase was broadcast live nationally on CNN and five Los Angeles TV stations.

Update hourly