Police-chase crash in Anaheim linked to Tustin homicide investigation

ANAHEIM, Calif. (KABC) -- A man died in a fiery crash next to the 91 Freeway in Anaheim following a police chase Monday night, and authorities believe he is the suspect in a homicide investigation in Tustin.

According to Lt. Jeff Hallock with the Orange County Sheriff's Department, deputies were called to a home on Warren Avenue between Newport and Holt avenues in Tustin for unknown trouble around 7 p.m.

When they arrived, they found a woman, identified as 55-year-old Lahoma Ballester, suffering from a gunshot wound. She was taken to a nearby hospital, where she later died.

Hallock said investigators then learned about a white SUV believed to be related to the incident, and the information was provided to neighboring law enforcement agencies in the county.

Santa Ana police found a vehicle matching the description and tried to make a traffic stop, but the driver kept going and a short pursuit ensued, Hallock said. The male driver was killed when he slammed the SUV into a sound wall at Rio Vista and Frontera streets in Anaheim.

Investigators say they believe the collision with the wall was intentional because the driver accelerated and failed to brake right before impact.

The coroner has not identified the driver, but authorities believe he is the suspect in Ballester's murder. According to investigators, the suspect and victim knew each other. They say the suspect has a child with the victim's daughter.

Erin Williams, a former neighbor, says she did recognize problems at the home, particularly with the person Ballester's daughter was dating.

"I hear a man shouting, but not a lot of times," said Williams.

Friends and loved ones visited Ballester's home Tuesday morning.

"We used to decorate for all the holidays, her house and my house. She's been to a couple of my parties. She's a very sweet lady," said neighbor Richard Schneider.

A motive for the alleged murder-suicide remains under investigation. Anyone with information was asked to contact the Orange County Sheriff's Department at (714) 647-7000.


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