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LAGUNA BEACH – Police opened fire on a man inside a black car this morning, shortly after the man reportedly tried to drive away from the scene of a six-car wreck, witnesses and authorities said.
Authorities said the man who was shot by officers is the same driver who was driving at a high rate of speed on the wrong side of Pacific Coast Highway just minutes before the crash occurred at 8 a.m., near the intersection of Pacific Coast Highway and St. Ann’s Drive. Two people were also treated for minor injuries.
“There are a lot of wrecked cars,” said Lt. Jason Kravetz of the Laguna Beach Police Department. A gray Audi, a Ford F-150 and a black Chevrolet were also involved in the crash.
At least one officer fired several times toward the driver inside the 2006 Mitsubishi while he was driving away from the scene of the crash, witnesses told the Orange County Register. At least one officer was ordering the driver to stop, then fired five to six times into the rear and passenger’s side of the mangled car while employees and patrons of businesses watched, witnesses said.
The man, identified by police only as a man in his 20s, was taken to Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo, where he is being treated for multiple gunshot wounds.
According to DMV records, the four-door Mitsubishi is registered to Colby Koenig, a 25-year-old man.
Before the crash occurred, authorities said, they were alerted about a dark-colored sedan moving at a high speed on the wrong side of Pacific Coast Highway. The driver was first reported to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, heading north on Pacific Coast Highway from Dana Point. Some witnesses reported the car going at 80 to 100 mph, Kravetz said.
The car sped past two officers at Wesley Drive, where officers saw the car whiz by on the wrong side of the road while they were directing traffic, Kravetz said. Click here for a diagram of how it happened.
Seconds later, the crash.
Patrons and workers of nearby businesses rushed to the street after the sound of the impact reverberated through the busy intersection, said Tim Manriquez, who ran from his job at a window-tinting business nearby.
“I heard the collision right at my door here,” he said. “It happened so fast, I just ran out to try to help people.”
The driver in one of the vehicles, a black Mitsubishi, appeared to have been knocked unconscious by the collision, and bystanders peeked inside the car to see if he was OK, Manriquez said.
Kim O’Donnell, of Laguna Beach, was driving with her daughter to school southbound on PCH when she heard the Mitsubishi crash into an SUV in front of her.
“I am very grateful that the SUV was in front of me because I was carrying my daughter,” she said. “He could have killed a lot of people.”
Police arrived a few seconds after the crash, and that is when the engine of the Mitsubishi started again. O’Donnell said she went to see if the driver of the Mitsubishi was OK. He was mumbling inside the car and the car’s horn was blowing. He did not respond to her, she said.
Another man opened the hood of the car to disengage the horn. O’Donnell then walked over to other cars to see if someone needed help. That’s when she heard the car “rev up,” she said
“He started to drive, he turned, and the car just spun out of the control,” Manriquez said.
Jaymes Gard, the general manager of the Penguin Café, said he heard the car’s wheels squeal as the driver turned the car on.
The car began to move from the center of Pacific Coast Highway toward St. Ann’s at about 10 mph, while three or four officers positioned themselves behind the car with their guns drawn, Gard said.
“It happened so quickly, it happened like in 10 seconds,” Gard said.
One of the officers began to scream at the driver.
“The cop was telling him to stop,” Manriquez said. As the vehicle turned, officers fired about five times into the car.
Liz Campbell, who works at The Stand, a nearby restaurant, said she heard five or six shots in a row.
“I saw some people drop to the floor or duck behind other objects,” Gard said. “I don’t think they were shooting to kill. They were trying to stop him.”
Kravetz said he did not yet know what caused the officers to fire, or if the man inside the vehicle had fired at officers.
After shots were fired, officers rushed toward the vehicle and were seen checking the driver’s vital signs, Gard said.
The Orange County District Attorney’s Office is at the scene investigating the shooting, Kravetz said. He did not say whether a weapon was retrieved from inside the black Mitsubishi.
At the intersection, the 2006 Mitsubishi remained sandwiched between two police patrol cars. Gunshot holes are visible in the rear and passenger side of the car. Deputies from the Orange County Sheriff Department’s major accident reconstruction unit are investigating the collision.