Woman Holds Cab Driver Hostage, Blocking Busy Freeway
Sep. 25, 1996
RIALTO, Calif. (AP) _ A woman who allegedly hijacked a taxi and held the driver at gunpoint on a freeway for five hours was captured after police flooded the cab with tear gas.
Elizabeth Bellus of Cathedral City was taken into custody when she ran from the cab shortly after 11 p.m. Tuesday, police said.
She was taken to San Bernardino County Medical Center for psychiatric evaluation and could face numerous charges, including kidnapping, said Capt. Timm Browne.
The cab driver, a Romanian immigrant, jumped from the cab and escaped about an hour before her capture as authorities threw a ``flash-bang'' device to distract the woman.
The standoff played out all evening in the middle of Interstate 10 near Rialto, about 50 miles east of Los Angeles. Rush hour traffic on the key east-west artery was backed up as much as 10 miles, the California Highway Patrol said.
The woman had demanded to speak to Los Angeles County District Attorney Gil Garcetti. She claimed that her mother was missing in Los Angeles and that Garcetti's office was doing nothing to find her, authorities said.
But her mother spoke to police and said she was fine and at her home in the desert, Browne said.
The mother, who was not identified, said she did not believe her daughter had a history of mental illness but added that the woman had not slept for two days, Browne said.
The cab driver apparently picked up the woman at a Palm Springs hotel and was forced to drive 30 miles to Rialto, said highway patrol Officer Arlene Brannon.
The cab stopped about an hour later in westbound freeway lanes when it apparently ran out of gas.