ORANGE CO, Calif. (KTLA) – A 47-year-old man in custody after a fiery pursuit involving a stolen U-Haul truck laughed at news cameras as he was being taken away in a patrol car Tuesday morning.
“Good morning L.A.,” was the suspect’s response when asked if he had anything to say after the 2-hour long pursuit that led authorities from Orange County to downtown Los Angeles and back again.
Investigators said the 26-foot U-Haul Super Mover was originally stolen from a business in Irvine. The Super Mover is the largest truck U-Haul offers to the public for moving, according to its website.
The chase originated in Buena Park, according to a California Highway Patrol spokesperson who confirmed the truck was stolen and driven by a lone male occupant.
Sky5 initially caught up with the pursuit a little after 5 a.m. as the U-Haul was on the 605 Freeway in Whittier.
The driver was being followed by CHP units as the truck transitioned to the westbound 60 Freeway in El Monte about 5:15 a.m. Aerial video from Sky5 showed a trailer sparking behind the truck, which appeared to be traveling at about 60 or 70 mph.
Shortly before 5:30 a.m., the driver transitioned the U-Haul to the northbound 5 Freeway on the East L.A. interchange. The truck later exited the 5 Freeway in the Los Feliz area before getting back on in the southbound direction.
The U-Haul continued on the 5 Freeway until transitioning to the southbound 605 Freeway in Downey.
About 6 a.m., the driver entered the eastbound 91 Freeway in Cerritos and headed back to where the pursuit began in Buena Park.
The truck appeared to run over a spike strip on the 91just before 6:15 a.m. and then exited the freeway on Euclid Street, with two flat front tires.
The tires began smoking as the driver continued to flee from authorities, getting back on the 91 Freeway headed westbound.
The vehicle had slowed down to about 10 mph due to the flat tires, but the driver continued on, at one point appearing to be using his cellphone.
Soon after, a fire ignited on the passenger side wheel, and the flames appeared to be growing and spreading under the truck about 6:45 a.m.
The vehicle exited the freeway a short time later on Bellflower Boulevard in Bellflower with the truck still burning.
The driver then jumped out of the truck and fled on foot after coming to a stop on Bellflower Boulevard with smoke filling the cabin of the vehicle.
Video showed the driver jump over several fences in an effort to evade authorities. He had some type of bag with him that he also threw over the fences and picked up as he fled.
Authorities set up a perimeter around an alley the man ran into before disappearing from view.
Meanwhile, the cab of the U-Haul truck was engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived and put it out.
A man was then seen walking away from the alley and was quickly approached by authorities.
The man — who was no longer carrying the bag at this point — surrendered without incident and was taken into custody.
Authorities say the man, who is from Orange County, is suspected of stealing three vehicles, including the U-Haul, the trailer and a motorcycle found inside the U-Haul.
“He’s not a young teenage kid anymore. He’s 47 years old. He should know what these consequences are,” CHP spokesperson Marcos Iñiguez said.
Iñiguez was also surprised to see the suspect laugh as he was being taken away.
“For them to laugh as you’re taking them away. It’s almost like they feel like it’s a slap on the wrist,” he said.
Iñiguez said investigators have at least four victims to follow up with in connection with the U-Haul and all of the stolen property it contained.