Back in August, a pair of men in an SUV were being pursued by the LAPD, allegedly for reckless driving, when they decided to pull over onto a highway onramp. One of them got out of the car and opened fire on the police cruiser behind him with what the LA Times describes as a “high-powered, assault-type rifle.”
The men then sped off, trading gunfire with police in a mile-long “rolling gun battle” along the freeway before ultimately abandoning their vehicle and fleeing into an industrial area of South-Central. The LAPD called in a SWAT team, a pair of helicopters, and K9 units to hunt for them. After two hours, dogs found one man, unarmed and hiding in a dumpster; officers arrested him after disabling him with a flashbang and pepper spray.
As for the other suspect, who was still carrying his assault rifle, the LAPD found him, too, and moved to intercept with a BearCat armored personnel carrier. According to the LA Times, the man then “peppered the BearCat with bullets, striking [a] SWAT officer, before he was killed by return fire.” According to a police spokesperson, “Thank goodness we had that armored vehicle as a shield because a regular police cruiser would have been Swiss cheese.” Thank goodness – and thank the taxpayers, too, since that BearCat (one of the LAPD’s two) cost them $150,000. As for the make and model of the “rare” gun carried by the alleged shooter (since identified as Andre Maurice Jones), I can’t find an exact description in any reports, but if I had to guess I’d say it was a heavily modified SKS outfitted with a 75-round magazine, a weapon configuration that’s illegal under California law but which you can acquire easily enough, magazine included, for under $400.
Anyway, all this happened over a month ago, so why is it in the news today? Well, it seems that all those drivers whose commutes were disrupted by that gun battle and hours of subsequent evidence collection were re-routed through automated ExpressPass lanes – and then billed for it. Although the company which administers ExpressLane billing, Xerox Service, is working to undo the tolls, and is deeply apologetic for the inconvenience, people are nonetheless quite out of sorts. Said one commuter, “I know it’s just a buck, but it’s the principle of the thing. It doesn’t inspire confidence in the entire system.”
Yes. Of all the parts of this story, that one-dollar fee really is the thing that should inspire a crisis of confidence in “the entire system.”