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Costa Mesa officer shoots at suspects in stolen truck

One suspect remains at large. He is described as a Latino wearing a black sweatshirt, blue jeans and a black baseball cap.

July 05, 2012|By Joseph Serna and Lauren Williams
(Courtesy Costa…)

A Costa Mesa police officer shot at a stolen truck that began ramming his patrol car Thursday morning, authorities said.

The shooting occurred about 6:11 a.m. outside the New Harbor Inn, 2205 Harbor Blvd.

According to police, an electronic vehicle tracking system in the officer's car alerted him that a stolen car was in the area. When he turned into the southwest portion of the motel's parking lot, he found two men sitting in a reportedly stolen black Nissan pickup truck.

The truck backed up, then drove directly into the officer's vehicle twice, Lt. Tim Schennum said in a press release.

The officer fired several shots at the truck in self-defense, and the passenger immediately jumped out and surrendered, according to the release.

The driver bailed out of the vehicle, ran out of the parking lot and down Harbor Boulevard.

About 10 a.m., several business owners and area residents stood on the sidewalk looking toward the motel and a nearby command center that police set up at the neighboring mobile home park.

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Police said they do not know if the driver was hit by any of the officer's shots. Police would not release the number of rounds fired, but said it appeared all bullets struck the truck.

The driver remains at large, and police are searching the area.

The suspect is described as a male Latino, between 19 and 24 years old, wearing a black sweatshirt, blue jeans and a black baseball cap.

The Orange County Sheriff's Department is assisting in the search for the suspect with a K-9 unit. The Orange County district attorney's office is investigating the shooting.

The officer was not injured, Schennum said.

Residents nearby reported hearing a commotion about the time of the incident, and said they saw a helicopter circling the area and an increased police presence.

Kimberly Diaz, 13, who lives on the block behind where the officer shot at the suspect, said she heard loud noises, but wasn't sure of the source.

"I thought it was just fireworks, so I stayed inside," she said.

Jose Contreras Chavez, who lives on nearby Miner Street, said he was taking a morning walk with his wife when he saw two motorcycle officers patrolling his street.

Luis Hernandez said police were already in the area when he began his shift in the morning at the Shell gas station four doors down from the motel.

"It was very quiet, but I saw a lot of police," Hernandez said.

Anyone with information is asked to call Det. Jose Morales at (714) 754-5356.

joseph.serna@latimes.com; lauren.williams@latimes.com

Twitter: @JosephSerna and @lawilliams30

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