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Officers find driver dead behind wheel after LA freeway pursuit ends on street near schools


LOS ANGELES — A man who was wanted on suspicion of pistol-whipping his ex-girlfriend's new lover led police on a freeway chase Wednesday before shooting himself on a San Fernando Valley street, authorities said.

SWAT team members who approached the white utility truck found the man slumped behind the steering wheel. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police said the driver was a known gang member who was wanted on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon.

The Los Angeles County coroner's office identified him as Raul De La Cueva, 42, of Panorama City.

Police began chasing the truck at about 11:35 a.m. in the Arleta area. Television news reports showed the truck ramming into a gated apartment complex driveway, and the gate knocked down a man.

The truck drove through the complex and onto Interstate 5, eventually ending up back on city streets where the 15-minute chase ended when the truck ran over a spike strip that flattened its tires.

About 45 minutes later, a SWAT team opened the truck doors and found the man inside.

A white and tan Chihuahua that apparently had been sitting on the man's lap during the chase ran out of the truck but was later found and captured by animal control officers.

The little dog was taken to a shelter and reunited with other members of the man's family, Jan Selder of Los Angeles Services told City News Service.

Several nearby schools were locked down during the pursuit.

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