Sunday, March 19, 2006

Deadly Car Chase Ends Near Pismo Beach Denny's
Lompoc Record, CA
March 19, 2006
Arroyo Grande officer likely ended deadly Highway 101 chase
By Mark Baylis/Staff Writer

An Arroyo Grande police officer has been placed on paid administrative
leave, unofficially credited with fatally shooting an armed suspect and
ending Friday's wild police chase that included two carjackings, three
hostages and several shootouts with police.

Officer Albert L. Beattie, 32, a nine-year veteran of the department, was
placed on paid administrative leave until the shooting investigation of
Friday's fracas on Highway 101 is complete. The investigation and
administrative leave are standard procedure in deadly force incidents, said
Chief Tony Aeilts.

Authorities are awaiting the results of a Santa Barbara County Sheriff's
Department autopsy to determine if Beattie shot the suspect or whether he
died from self-inflicted gunshot wounds. The dead man's name hasn't been

Beattie was the only officer who fired at the suspect, according to Aeilts.

“He was the only one that was in a position to fire at that time,” Aeilts

The 110-mile, high-speed chase Friday started between Templeton and
Atascadero and led to one suspect being arrested in Pismo Beach and the
second suspect shot dead near El Capitan State Beach.

In between the suspects shot at officers and two vehicles were hijacked at
gunpoint, officials said. One vehicle contained three hostages carjacked in
Pismo Beach and taken south of the Gaviota tunnel before the Jeep ran out of
gas and the kidnapper abandoned them to carjack a furniture van.

The suspect was then killed during a gun battle with Beattie and four other
undercover officers along Highway 101.

Beattie belongs to a interagency drug task force that works under the
Department of Justice. He encountered the suspect while returning from Santa
Barbara to serve unrelated search warrants for the task force, police said

While details from the final shootout remain murky, the Santa Barbara
Sheriff's Department believe the suspect may have tried to carjack the
narcotics officers, unaware that they were plainclothes cops, said Sheriff's
Sgt. Erik Raney.

Chief Aeilts said the suspect drove his vehicle towards Beattie and the four
other narcotics officers and fired his weapon at them while they were
coincidentally assisting an unrelated motorist on the side of Highway 101.

An autopsy on the killed suspect is scheduled for Monday.

Arroyo Grande Police didn't immediately know the date of the last
officer-involved shooting, but a veteran officer said there hadn't been one
during his 20-year tenure.

It's unknown how long Beattie will be on leave until the investigation is
complete, but Aeilts said the officer was dealing well with the stress of
the shooting.

“He's in good spirits and doing as well as anybody could, given the
circumstances,” Aeilts said.

Officials have not released the killed suspect's name, age or hometown. It
is believed he had a criminal history, after he told a hostage negotiator
over a cell phone that “he didn't want to go back to prison” during the
southbound chase, according to a sheriff's dispatch.

A Paso Robles officer suffered minor injuries during the final shootout near
El Capitan State Beach, Paso Robles Police confirmed Saturday.

Officer Roger Degnan was one of the undercover narcotics officers that the
suspect fired at. The officer was struck in the neck by either a projectile
or a windshield glass fragment shattered by a bullet.

He was treated at the scene and did not require hospitalization. No other
officers or civilians were reported injured.

Officers arrested the other suspect in Pismo Beach Friday after the duo's
minivan hit a spike strip and blew its tires. Police nabbed Bay Area
resident Nicandro Sanchez, 30, in a restaurant parking lot on Five Cities
Drive - coincidentally a block away from the Denny's restaurant where last
week's triple-homicide took place.

Sanchez is being held on $500,000 bail at San Luis Obispo County Jail on
suspicion of criminal conspiracy, attempted murder, being under the
influence of a controlled substance, being a felon in possession of a
weapon, carrying a concealed weapon, receiving known stolen property and a
parole hold.

The fracas closed Highway 101 between Highway 1 and western Goleta all
afternoon, until all lanes were reopened by 6:30 p.m.

Hundreds of drivers were stranded directly in front of the crime scene
throughout the whole ordeal, unable to take a detour. A mile's worth of
drivers, seeking to head south, waited five hours before they could move.
Together they sat in the roadway, talked on cell phones and stared at the
helicopters flying over the crime scene.

Highway 154 was the only detour between the North County and South Coast. It
remained bumper to bumper Friday evening as commuters tried to return home
or get out of town for the weekend.


A police chase that extended for more than 100 miles at speeds in excess of
100 mph began as a routine attempted traffic stop south of Paso Robles in
San Luis Obispo County.

* About noon - A CHP officer tries to pull over a southbound white Toyota
minivan on Highway 101 for speeding and following too close. When the
vehicle doesn't stop, officers pursue it into southern San Luis Obispo

* 12:30 p.m. - Pismo Beach Police disable suspects' van with spike strip on
Five Cities Drive. Shots are exchanged between the CHP and the two suspects.
One flees on foot and is arrested in a restaurant parking lot. The second,
with a handgun, carjacks a Jeep Cherokee and flees south with the car's
three occupants inside.

* 12:43 p.m. - The Jeep reaches Santa Maria. Santa Barbara County Sheriff's
Department cars and a helicopter join the chase.

* 1:12 p.m. - Jeep runs out of gas on Highway 101 near Tajiguas. The suspect
abandons it and the three hostages and carjacks a moving van. Its occupants
flee uninjured.

* 1:18 p.m. - The big truck crosses the median to try a U-turn, almost
hitting a school bus. The truck instead leaves the northbound side of the
freeway onto El Capitan Ranch Road, where the suspect and an off-duty
narcotics officer engage in a shootout and the suspect becomes motionless.

* About 2 p.m. - A Sheriff's Department robot confirms the suspect appears
to be dead in the front seat of the truck.

* 6 p.m. - Highway 101 southbound is reopened.

* 6:25 p.m. - Highway 101 northbound is reopened.

Mark Baylis can be reached at 739-2218 or mbaylis@lompoc

March 19, 2006

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