EL CAJON (CBS 8 / CNS) - A California Highway Patrol officer opened fire on a parolee at large who allegedly steered a car directly toward him on a road near Gillespie Field, then fled into a surrounding industrial area and eluded capture for nearly four hours.
Ali Alkafaji, 27, was taken into custody shortly before 6 p.m. Tuesday in the 700 block of Gable Way in El Cajon, a few blocks from the site of the mid-afternoon shooting, police Lt. Mike Moulton said. Alkafaji was booked into county jail Tuesday night on various charges, including resisting arrest and assault with a deadly weapon on police officer. El Cajon police also arrested a woman who was with Alkafaji and wanted on two outstanding felony warrants.
The events that led to the non-injury gunfire began at about 2 p.m., when El Cajon police spotted Alkafaji driving a small red car in the 1300 block of North Johnson Avenue and recognized him as a fugitive, according to Moulton.
They called for backup, and a CHP officer who happened to be nearby was among those who responded.
When they tried to pull over Alkafaji, he allegedly refused to yield and rammed a police sergeant's cruiser, then allegedly accelerated directly toward the CHP officer, who had pulled over and gotten out of his squad car.
Fearing for his life, the patrolman opened fire, the lieutenant said.
Following the shooting, the suspect allegedly sped off and drove a short distance before abandoning his vehicle in a parking lot in the 800 block of Vernon Way and running off into the surrounding commercial district.
Numerous officers then began an intensive search on foot and aboard a sheriff's helicopter.
The nature of the area, which is crowded with warehouses, machine shops and other industrial properties, made the process of finding the suspect "very difficult," Moulton said.
"These buildings are large," the lieutenant told reporters in the late afternoon. "They're time-consuming ... to search; there's a lot of places to hide in (them). So that's why it's taking so long."
Alkafaji did not require medical care when officers located and apprehended him two blocks north of Westfield Parkway mall, according to Moulton.
The search kept residents working in a nearby industrial park on edge through most of the afternoon, until Alkafaji was captured.
"It was a relief for us knowing that [since] this is where it originated, that it wasn't going to come back," said Robert Stadnick, who owns a gym on Johnson Avenue.