A suspected carjacker switched cars three times, took a pair of hostages and led authorities on a 100-mile freeway chase Friday before he was stopped and shot to death near a state beach, authorities said.
The man, whose identity was not immediately released, either shot himself or was hit by some of the dozen shots fired at him after his stolen moving van was disabled at the end of the chase at about 1:20 p.m., California Highway Patrol Officer James Wallace said.
A Paso Robles police officer was wounded at some point during the pursuit, which reached speeds up to 130 mph, but Wallace said he did not know the details.
The man was seen speeding in a rental car in Paso Robles and was pursued until he crashed for the first time in Pismo Beach, Wallace said.
He hijacked a car and took off with two people inside the car, the officer said.
He drove for nearly an hour southbound on U.S. 101 before running out of gas and abandoning it and his hostages near Gaviota, Wallace said.
The man was in contact with authorities by cell phone at the time and told them "he wanted to stop and get gas," Wallace said.
Instead, he carjacked the moving van and took off again on the freeway, Wallace said.
The chase ended near El Capitan State Beach, about 20 miles north of Santa Barbara, when the van hit a spike strip laid down by CHP officers and blew its tires.
The driver then turned the van around and headed it northward on the right shoulder of the freeway.
When it stopped a minute or two later, "there was a shot fired," although it was unclear if it was aimed at pursuing officers, Wallace said.
Officers from the CHP and possibly other police agencies fired at least 12 shots in return, Wallace said.
"We don't know if our shots (hit him) or he killed himself," Wallace said.