Tear Gas Forces Surrender of Barricaded Suspect
Los Angeles: On Friday, April 11, 2003, at 12:10 a.m., Los Angeles Police Department, Hollywood Area officers became involved in a vehicle pursuit of Stephen William Viera, 25 years-of-age, a resident of Los Angeles. Viera had been identified as a parolee-at-large and was wanted in connection with a domestic violence-related, terrorist threat incident that occurred in Hollywood. The officers pursued Viera to the area of Heliotrope Avenue and Beverly Boulevard, where he abandoned his vehicle and fled on foot. A perimeter was set up and a search initiated. During the search, two Wilshire Area officers, who were stationed on the outer perimeter, were struck by a hit-and-run vehicle. It was unknown at that time whether Viera was involved in the hit-and-run or not.
On Wednesday, April 16, 2003, at 10:00 p.m., Hollywood detectives were conducting follow-up investigations in Southwest Area and obtained information that Viera was last seen driving a green pick-up truck in the area. The information was broadcast and the detectives began searching the area. The Hollywood detectives located Viera on the northbound Harbor Freeway and called for back-up units. 77th Area officers responded and attempted to stop Viera. Once again he failed to yield and another vehicle pursuit ensued. The pursuit terminated at Figueroa Street and 42nd Street, where Viera ran into an apartment building. Viera barricaded himself inside one of the apartments and refused to exit. At one point, Viera indicated that he was armed and contemplating suicide. Metropolitan Division, Special Weapons and Tactics Unit, were contacted and a negotiator attempted to talk Viera out. Over a period of five hours, protracted negotiations failed to gain Viera’s compliance. Tear gas was subsequently deployed, Viera exited the apartment and was taken into custody. It is believed that Viera’s parole status and his fear of returning to prison were the motivating factors for his attempts to flee.
It has been established that Viera was not involved in the hit-and-run incident with the officers on the perimeter of the original pursuit on April 11, 2003. That incident is being investigated by Central Traffic Division, collision investigations detectives.
Viera was booked at Hollywood Area for a No Bail, Violation of Parole Warrant, Felony Evading, and felony 422 of the Penal Code (Terrorist Threats). The cases will be presented to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. He is due to be arraigned in Division 30 on Friday, April 18, 2003.
This press release was prepared by Public Information Officer Renee’ Montoya, Media Relations Section, 213-485-3586.