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Police remove suspect from red VW Bug

August 13, 2009 11:58:48 AM PDT
Police have pulled the suspect from a red Volkswagen Bug after a more than eight-hour standoff in Westwood Thursday.Police and FBI agents used a device to remove the driver-side window. They then used a TASER device to disable the suspect, pulled him out of the vehicle and took him into custody at around 6:45 p.m.

The suspect, identified as 56-year-old Joe Moshe of Westchester, sustained some minor abrasions because of the broken glass, and was treated at UCLA Medical Center. He remains in police custody.

"He is an individual that has some mental problems," said LAPD Deputy Chief Terry Hara. "He's had contact with law enforcement agencies in the past."

The hours-long standoff began as a pursuit in the Westchester area at about 10 a.m. when LAPD tried to stop Moshe for a misdemeanor warrant. He was suspected of making threats against the White House, and the Secret Service wanted to talk to him.

A robot fired tear gas into the car through a hole that was broken in the rear passenger-side window at about 5:30 p.m., and then again a few minutes later. When the driver rolled the windows down agents ran over to the vehicle and shot more tear gas into it. The man then rolled the window back up.

The suspect was blocked by police vehicles at the parking lot of a federal building near Veteran and Wilshire Boulevard.

SWAT vehicles and officers surrounded the vehicle. The suspect had been sitting in the car smoking cigarettes since it was blocked in by police at about 10:30 a.m. Officers stood nearby with their guns pointed at the vehicle, and a police robot wheeled its way around the vehicle as the standoff continued.

A red pickup truck and a black sedan that were in the driveway when the suspect drove alongside were also blocked in by police cruisers. The occupants of those vehicles were safely evacuated.

A police bomb squad responded to the scene. A four-wheeled robot circled the car and tried to hand over a communications device to the suspect, but he did not take it.

A military-style armored vehicle was also brought to the scene and began pushing the Beetle back. It was eventually parked against the front of the vehicle, ensuring that the man inside could not drive away.

The nearby federal building was locked down, with employees asked to stay inside. The LAPD evacuated an apartment building across the street from the standoff in case they are in the line of fire if gunfire broke out.

Veteran Boulevard was shut down in both directions south of Wilshire Boulevard.

The man had been under surveillance since about 2 a.m. When officers tried to pull the man over in Westchester at about 10 a.m., the suspect drove off, heading north on the 405 Freeway, followed by multiple police cruisers and a helicopter crew. He exited Wilshire Boulevard west east for one block before turning south on Veteran near the federal building. He drove into the federal building parking lot, circled and tried to exit back onto Veteran, but he was blocked in by a police SUV, beginning the standoff.

Late in the afternoon, local officers and FBI agents began searching the suspect's Westchester home to determine if he might have bomb-making or other dangerous materials. K-9 units were also brought in. Police went through the trash, and checked the interior and exterior of the home.

Neighbors described Moshe as a quiet man who kept to himself.

"Usually when he's off his meds, that's when he starts acting up," said neighbor Ken Furuishi. "But he's usually quiet, [nothing] ever happens."

Officials say Moshe was not carrying a weapon, but he will likely face a number of felony charges including resisting arrest and reckless driving.

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