Ask long-time Malibu residents the last time they remember a high-speed chase and armed suspect in town, and it could be a while before they recall a scene like the one that unfolded last Wednesday evening.
An effort between the FBI, California Highway Patrol, multiple Los Angeles Police Department stations and the Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station last Wednesday night culminated in multiple shots fired, a high-speed chase, a long standoff and the eventual arrest of a suspect in Malibu Bluffs Park.
Laura Eimiller, spokeswoman for the FBI in Los Angeles, said the incident began around five minutes before 7 p.m. with what appeared to be an attempted kidnapping in the parking lot of an LA Fitness on the 9000 block of Desoto Street in Chatsworth, which was witnessed by an FBI agent conducting personal business at the time.
“He came upon what he perceived to be a kidnapping in process with a male suspect,” said Eimiller, adding, “he intervened in the situation.”
According to officers with the LAPD’s Topanga Station, the suspect, now known to be Seyed Behzad Hashemi, had past run-ins with the law.
Local LAPD officers had “prior knowledge of this guy,” according to Officer Wright at the Topanga station, for “possibly stalking” his girlfriend.
That was the same female whom he attempted to abduct on Wednesday evening.
“There were shots fired,” said Eimiller, “our agent was not shot; he did discharge his weapon and at that point the suspect fled with the female in the vehicle.”
Next, according to Wright, the chase began.
“FBI called out a help call,” said Wright, “[LAPD] units responded, they lost the car, CHP picked him up somewhere around Woodlake [Avenue].”
Then, Wright said, another confrontation occurred, between Roscoe Boulevard and Saticoy Street.
“Shots fired again, where he shot at the CHP officer,” said Wright, who said the suspect was again able to flee the scene.
Along the route, Eimiller said, the female victim escaped or was allowed out of the vehicle.
“The victim was released near Topanga Station,” said Eimiller.
“He was picked up at Woodlake and the 101 [Freeway] by Topanga officers who went into pursuit with this guy and ended up in Malibu,” said Wright.
Although the chase was now in Malibu, Sheriffs from the Malibu/Lost Hills Station were not directly involved, according to LA County Sheriff’s Dept. Watch Commander Officer Covarrubias.
“The watch commander … made an order that our department would not be involved in that pursuit,” said Covarrubias, adding, “The technical command was being run by LAPD, so LAPD’s control — it was their call. We were basically there to assist if needed.”
The chase took the Topanga LAPD officers down Malibu Canyon Road and eventually led into Bluffs Park, where Hashemi exited the car.
It was then that eyewitnesses claim another shot was fired.
Topanga LAPD officers stated there is an unofficial account of an officer shooting at the man in Bluffs Park, where according to witnesses, many bystanders were taking cover.
Between 7:15 and 7:30 p.m., law enforcement officers from four agencies flooded into the Bluffs Park area, where Hashemi lay down in the shrubs and refused to respond to officers.
According to Eimiller, there were “easily hundreds of personnel involved,” in the chase, standoff and investigation.
“To say hundreds is probably a conservative estimate — or at least a decent guess,” said Eimiller.
Along with the massive influx of emergency vehicles and helicopters, traffic in both directions on Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu Canyon Road and Malibu Road was halted for hours.
On Malibu Road, officers kept curious residents and spectators at bay.
Area resident and Malibu Times multimedia director Julie Ellerton was on the scene, and reported that officers had to warn citizens that the area was an active crime scene and could be dangerous.
“He was saying that the suspect was right beyond a sign that was there, the 25-mile speed sign on the right side, and he said ‘He’s just right there in the hill and you are in shooting range,’ something like that,” said Ellerton.
Ellerton added that for the spectators on Malibu Road, despite the heavy police presence, there was not a lot of tangible fear.
“I didn’t see one person say ‘Oh my god, what? let me get my kids!’ at all,” Ellerton said.
Just before 9 p.m. Wednesday night, the suspect was closed in on and lifted out and into a waiting ambulance.
FBI spokespeople and Sheriffs on the scene confirmed that the suspect was injured in the pursuit, and it was later revealed that Hashemi suffered a gunshot wound.
Hashemi is now being held for $1 million bail, according to LAPD spokesperson Officer Morales.
“The official charge is kidnapping and carjacking,” Morales added.