In path of stolen "bait car," officer fires during I-405 chase
A Bellevue police officer opened fire Wednesday on a man who stole a "bait car," then bore down on two motorcycle officers who were tracking...
Seattle Times Eastside bureau
A Bellevue police officer opened fire Wednesday on a man who stole a "bait car," then bore down on two motorcycle officers who were tracking the vehicle along Interstate 405.
A stream of motorists watched the afternoon drama unfold along southbound 405, slowing traffic for hours along the freeway.
The pursuit began at 1:46 p.m. and ended a few minutes later when the car was remotely disabled just off I-405, south of Interstate 90.
The driver, a 27-year-old from Kent, was taken to a hospital with minor injuries, said Officer Greg Grannis, Bellevue police spokesman. The driver's name was not released Wednesday.
Grannis said he didn't know how many shots were fired or whether the driver was hit by gunfire or injured during the pursuit. What appeared to be a bullet hole was visible in the driver's-side door of the car.
The car, a red Honda with mag wheels, was a "bait car" used by police departments to catch car thieves. It was stolen from Bellevue Community College.
Grannis said that after the initial theft report, two motorcycle officers tried to catch up with the car.
The driver pulled off the freeway at Lake Washington Boulevard Southeast, near the Newport Hills park-and-ride lot. Grannis said the driver turned onto Hazelwood Lane, a dead-end street paralleling the freeway.
As the two motorcycle officers followed, the driver made a U-turn and started back toward the officers, he said.
"The first motor officer had to jump off his bike to avoid being hit," Grannis said. "The second officer fired on the vehicle."
The Honda continued past the officers, turned back toward southbound I-405, but then was shut down on the right shoulder of the onramp, where it sat throughout the afternoon as investigators pieced the incident together.
A tracking company that monitors the bait cars remotely disabled the motor. Bait cars usually are disabled when officers are close by, Grannis said, so that the occupants cannot flee.
More than a dozen Bellevue and State Patrol cruisers and other emergency vehicles were at the scene.
The trunk of the Honda was open, and batteries and electronic gear could be seen inside.
Bait cars usually contain equipment such as cameras to record car thieves, as well as transmitters making it possible to track a stolen car's location. The cars often have mechanisms allowing police to lock the doors, so an occupant can't escape.
Bellevue began an aggressive crackdown on stolen cars last year, including the use of bait cars and seeking higher bails and longer sentences from the King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office.
Peyton Whitely: 206-464-2259 or email@example.com
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