An alleged street racer meetup in Los Angeles turned deadly this weekend when undercover California Highway Patrol officers shot and killed the driver of a truck they say turned and drove toward them after a pursuit. The truck’s passenger was also injured by gunfire.
The LA Times reports that the driver, 19-year-old Pedro Villanueva, died on the scene Sunday at about 10:30 p.m. in Fullerton. The 18-year-old passenger has not been identified, but is expected to fully recover from his gunshot wound to the arm. NBC says the passenger is not facing charges.
“Authorities said Villanueva’s red Chevy Silverado pickup likely was one of nearly 80 trucks and off-road vehicles participating in the illegal car meeting, also known as a ‘sideshow,’ in the parking lot of the Santa Fe Springs swap meet,” the LA Times explains.
LAist says CHP officers had already broken up the meet Villanueva was caught fleeing from “three times prior during the day” before pursuing his red Silverado. The CHP had apparently put a task force together to crack down on street racing over the July 4th holiday weekend.
Their chase of the Silverado ended when they truck went down a dead-end road. “The driver then made a U-turn and allegedly drove directly at officers” Sgt. Kathryn Hamel with the Fullerton Police Department told NBC.
Driving a vehicle towards officers is often seen as a justification for lethal force. However, it seems to be unknown whether Villanueva was actually driving at the cops with the intention of ramming them or not. CHP Lt. Charlie Sampson told the LA Times that “it was not clear whether the driver knew he was being followed by the undercover car.”
The incident is still under investigation.