Bentley driver wounded in L.A. freeway shooting



A man driving a $200,000 Bentley was wounded around 3:30 a.m. on the northbound 101 Freeway in downtown Los Angeles. Traffic was severely affected, but all lanes have been reopened.

Police are still trying to determine who shot a man driving a Bentley this morning on the northbound 101 Freeway, leaving the victim in critical condition and jamming traffic during the morning commute and beyond.

All lanes of the northbound 101 Freeway and the Interstate 5 and Interstate 10 connectors were reopened by 11:43 a.m. after being closed for nearly eight hours while authorities conducted an investigation.

Police found the driver slumped over his steering wheel with gunshot wounds about 3:30 a.m. near the Aliso Street exit. There were multiple bullet holes in the passenger door and window of the Bentley. Police said the shots probably were fired from another car.

The Los Angeles Police Department and the California Highway Patrol had received several reports of shots fired between Olvera and Alameda streets, said Lt. Paul Vernon of the LAPD's Central Division. Shortly after, both agencies received calls about an erratic driver who had struck the freeway median, Vernon said.

"We have not seen a freeway shooting in quite some time," Vernon said. "And this case really stands out in the number of rounds fired at the victim's car and the kind of car the victim was driving."

Another driver stopped to help the victim, smashing the driver's side window after noticing the man was unresponsive, Vernon said. The victim, identified only as 25-year-old Latino whose last known residence was in East Los Angeles, was taken to County-USC Medical Center in critical condition.

"His prognosis is not good," Vernon said.

An LAPD firearms expert was sent to the scene at 8:30 a.m. to examine the $200,000 car, police said. The expert and detectives plan to search the silver, two-door 2005 Continental GT Bentley for bullets and other debris to determine what kind of weapon was used, Vernon said.

Detectives found several bullet casings along the freeway, near the Mission Road exit. There were no known witnesses to the shooting, but motorists did stop to aid the driver after he struck the median, thinking he was a drunk driver.

"This is a real whodunit," Vernon said. "We'll have to look into a number of things, like the owner of the car and who the driver was, to better understand what happened. What we really need is for someone to come forward with information."

The car was so new that it did not have regular license plates; it had temporary paper tags, which read "Dream." The car was not registered to the driver, Vernon said, but that may be because it had just been bought. Vernon would not say whom the car was registered to.

No weapon, illicit drugs or other illegal items were found in the car, and detectives were trying to determine whether the shooting was related to drugs, gangs or road rage.

There did not appear to be cameras along the stretch of freeway where the car was found, Vernon said, but as detectives canvassed the freeway for evidence they would also look for traffic cameras that may have captured images of the car before the shooting, Vernon said. Earlier, he began checking with downtown merchants to learn whether any had reported a Bentley stolen.

The southbound 101 was closed from the northbound 110 Freeway to the eastbound 10 Freeway, said CHP Officer Anthony Martin, and traffic was still being diverted at the connectors to surface streets at 10:30 a.m. as police finished a traffic report.

There have been four homicides in downtown Los Angeles this year; there were seven last year.

- video encodings still in process -