SWAT Team Nabs Armed Suspect

By SUE PASCOE

Editor

 

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A Los Angeles police officer who did not wish to be identified told the Palisades News, “If the door to the house had not been locked, we would have had a hostage situation.”

He was referring to the armed suspect holed up in a garage on Lombard Street in the early morning hours of April 11. The man had initially tried the door to the house, but when he could not get in, stayed in the garage.

Kharl Stuart, 32, was driving a white Honda CV erratically in southwest Los Angeles when LAPD ran the license plate around 2 a.m. and learned the vehicle had been stolen from a Long Beach location. A 17-mile pursuit ensued onto the 10 Freeway, and then Pacific Coast Highway until the driver, followed by a police helicopter and patrol cars, turned off Temescal Canyon Road onto Haverford.

Unfortunately for the criminal, who was out on a no-bail warrant from Northern California, he didn’t know that there are only three ways in and out of the Palisades: Chautauqua Boulevard, Temescal Canyon Road and Sunset Boulevard.

As he wound his way through the narrow Palisades streets near the Via de las Olas Bluffs looking for a way out, he lost control of his car east of Swarthmore on Lombard, striking two cars.

The stolen vehicle was too damaged to continue driving, so the criminal bolted from his vehicle, firing seven shots at police officers (or the airship), according to neighbors and the police.

He ran to the house on Lombard, and gained entry to the garage, but couldn’t get into the main house because of the locked door. A SWAT team came to the house to rescue the couple, their infant and a housekeeper.

“It was imperative that we get the people out of the house,” said Captain Blake Chow, West Bureau Commander of Operations. “SWAT officers put themselves at risk to rescue them.”

Street blocks around the house were closed off. One neighbor, Instagram executive Nathan Hubbard, used the live video app Periscope as well as surveillance tapes to provide images to followers and friends.

Around 7 a.m., Sergeant Frank Preciado said: “We’re going to introduce gas. Wait awhile and if he doesn’t comply, the SWAT team will go in.”

When the armed suspect failed to come out of the garage, police used an electronic device to try to open the garage door. When that failed, a specialized vehicle took the garage door off.

SWAT team members, canines and their handlers and LAPD officers entered the garage and found the suspect hiding in the hatch of a car. A handgun was found.

Firefighters and paramedics from Fire Station 69 were on site during the lockdown, and the suspect initially was seen by paramedics, before he walked away, sandwiched by LAPD officers to a waiting car.

Bail was set at $3.125 million, with a court date set for May 10.

This wasn’t Stuart’s first time in a stolen-car pursuit. In 2014, in the San Francisco Bay area, he led police on a chase that ended when he crashed a stolen Prius into a fence near Interstate Highway 80. He hid under some cars and was eventually taken into custody with a police K-9.

 

LAPD SWAT team members were integral to the operation in the 400 block of Lombard. Photo: Hugh Slavitt

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