The man reportedly shot and killed his estranged girlfriend, a nurse, who was at her job in University Place. After a high-speed chase, police shot and killed him.
A high-speed chase on Interstate 5 ended with 12 police officers opening fire and killing a homicide suspect Saturday morning along Interstate 5 near Tillicum, authorities said.
Marcos Perea, the homicide suspect, allegedly fired shots at police several times on the highway after killing his estranged girlfriend, Jessica Ortega, at her workplace in University Place.
Ortega on Friday had submitted a petition for a restraining order against Perea in Pierce County Superior Court. She wrote that she was leaving him and that he recently had threatened her by placing a gun to her head.
“He had a gun pointed at my head telling me it was my time to die,” she wrote.
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On Saturday, about 6:15 a.m., Perea, 41, allegedly shot and killed Ortega, 27, at University Place Care Center, Pierce County Sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said.
Officials from the long-term rehabilitation center where Ortega worked called the shooting “an act of domestic violence” directed at one of their nurses during a shift change. No one else was hurt.
By late Saturday, tributes to Ortega began being posted to social-media websites, noting the love she showed to her two children.
“Our hearts go out to the nurse’s family and loved ones,” University Place Care Center officials wrote in their statement before the Pierce County Medical Examiner disclosed Ortega’s identity.
The police chase developed when Lakewood officers spotted the suspect on I-5 in a Honda minutes after the shooting.
Perea opened fire on officers but didn’t strike any police vehicles, said Lt. Chris Lawler of the Lakewood Police Department. When Perea reached Thurston County, he left the freeway at Exit 109 in Lacey, then started north on I-5, Lawler said.
He continued to shoot at police, authorities said.
Washington State Patrol, Pierce County sheriff deputies and a Steilacoom officer joined in the chase. An officer maneuvered his vehicle to force Perea’s car to spin out near the Thorne Lane exit.
Perea got out of the car and fired again at the officers, Troyer said.
Twelve officers — six from Lakewood, five sheriff’s deputies and a Steilacoom officer — returned fire. Perea was struck multiple times and killed about 6:45 a.m., Lawler said.
Troyer said Perea left officers with no choice but to shoot him when he came out of the car firing his gun.
“Our guys do what they’re trained to do and you’re not going to survive that,” he said.
The medical examiner’s office listed the cause of death for both Ortega and Perea as multiple gunshot wounds.
There were no reports of any shots striking passersby or nearby businesses, Lawler said.
“We’re very lucky that no other citizens were hurt” on the freeway or at the care center, Troyer said.
“We are working through our deep shock and grief through the situation and are assisting the authorities in any way possible,” the care center’s statement said.
The incident snarled traffic for most of the day while officers collected evidence from the shooting scene. At one point the backup stretched 10 miles while officers closed two of the freeway’s three northbound lanes. By mid-afternoon, all lanes were opened.