Gas station owner feared car chase suspect would kill him
The owner of a gas station where a carjacking suspect was fatally shot by police at the end of slow-speed pursuit Thursday said he feared that the driver would shoot him.
Harry Hahn said the driver pulled into his gas station in Koreatown and appeared to have a gun in his hand.
"Maybe he gonna shoot me?," Hahn told KTLA-TV Channel 5 News, adding that he dropped to the ground and crawled toward police officers.
He told the station he feels grateful to be alive. "Every morning I'm gonna pray to God."
Authorities said police fired because the suspect pointed his handgun at customers at the gas station, endangering public safety.
"When he pulled out his revolver and pointed it at people inside the store, the officers took action, fired their rounds and the suspect expired at the scene," Cmdr. Andrew Smith said Friday.
But sources said the number of officers firing weapons is likely to be a focus of the Los Angeles Police Department investigation into the use of force, which is routine after every officer-involved shooting. In addition to the department's force investigation division, the district attorney's officer shooting team and the Police Commission's inspector general are investigating the shooting, as is standard practice.
Sources said that the incident unfolded very quickly, within moments of the suspect pulling into the gas station parking lot. He was clearly armed and officers knew he had committed two violent carjackings, police said, making the situation particularly volatile. Video footage of the shooting shows officers opening fire and delivering multiple rounds as a bystander ducked for cover.
A variety of factors will be examined, including whether bystanders or officers were potentially in danger because so many officers were firing weapons, the sources said. The investigation will also evaluate the chase and the large number of patrol cars involved.
No breakdowns were available about how many shots each officer fired. The sources declined to be identified because the investigation was still unfolding.
A revolver was found inside the older-model Saturn, said LAPD sources familiar with the incident.
The man allegedly stole a car from a woman in San Bernardino shortly before 3:30 p.m. Thursday, the sources said.
The man drove to Valley Boulevard and Eastern Avenue in El Sereno, where he dumped the car he was driving and stole the Saturn from a 65-year-old man, according to the sources.
-- Andrew Blankstein, Richard Winton and Shelby Grad
Photo: Fatal shooting at gas station. Credit: KTLA News.