A man pulled out a gun and started firing at California Highway Patrol officers, forcing them to return fire and shut down the 405 freeway in the Sepulveda Pass for several hours Thursday morning, according to investigators. The shutdown backed up rush hour traffic for miles.
The situation unfolded at around 2:45 am on the 405 freeway near Skirball Center Drive in the Brentwood area.
“A red Mustang was on the shoulder of the freeway. Officers noticed an airbag was deployed,” said Officer Jose Barrios of the CHP during a press conference Thursday afternoon. “They observed a male outside the car. At that point, the male reached into the car, pulled out a pistol, and started shooting at officers.”
Officers returned fire, hitting the suspect, who has since been identified as 37-year-old Michael Northcutt and the registered owner of the vehicle.
The suspect was transported to UCLA medical hospital where he had to undergo surgery. He is currently in an unknown condition.
No officers were injured. A patrol car had bullet holes in it.
“The officers did not know this person would pull out a gun until the suspect started firing,” added Barrios.
The 405 freeway was initially shut down in both directions. Sky2 showed CHP officers walking the southbound lanes, canvassing them for evidence. The northbound lanes have since fully reopened, as have two southbound lanes.
Some motorists reported being stuck in traffic for hours, unable to find alternate routes.
Los Angeles International Airport officials said FlyAway bus service that carries passengers from Van Nuys to the airport was delayed by at least 90 minutes.
Two lanes of the southbound freeway were finally reopened around 9am, but the freeway backup stretched for miles. The remaining freeway lanes finally reopened around 1 p.m.
Barrios said it was still unclear how the Mustang was originally damaged, noting that it would take a significant collision to cause the airbags to deploy.
There was also no indication of why the 37-year-old man opened fire at the officers.