The man who drove a stolen van off Malibu Canyon Road early Friday afternoon, leading to a manhunt, has been arrested. Michael Kheop, 44, was found hiding in a “community laundry room” near his Malibu home at about 11:30 p.m. Friday and arrested by deputies from the Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station, according to a press release issued by the department Saturday morning. A neighbor had called 911 after seeing Kheop’s photo on a TV news broadcast. Kheop was taken into custody without incident.
At approximately 1:45 p.m. Friday a sheriff’s vehicle with an automated license plate recognition system (ALPR) identified a gray Chrysler minivan driving in front of it on Malibu Canyon Road as stolen. The driver of the minivan, suspected to be Kheop, then pulled over onto the side of the road near Malibu Presbyterian Church, and deputies began to communicate with the driver and his passenger. Thai said the driver appeared to argue with a female passenger, who has been identified as Kheop’s wife, before started the car again and rolling it off the side of the road and into a steep ravine. The female passenger was able to jump out of the car before it rolled over the edge.
“There was no chase, he pulled over, and that’s when he just kind of went crazy and drove off the road,” Thai said.
A car rental agency reported the minivan as a stolen vehicle to the Inglewood Police Department on April 13 after it was not returned, Thai said. The Malibu search and rescue team searched for the man until 9 p.m. The search and rescue team is comprised of volunteers and reserve deputies who are trained in searches any time a vehicle goes over a cliff or a canyon.
Malibu Canyon Road reopened for traffic at 6:30 p.m. after being closed down from about 2 p.m. on. Malibu City Hall also reopened at 4 p.m. after originally locking down when the search began.