Man wounded in shooting after Laguna Beach police pursuit

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Laguna Beach police officers provide medical aid to a suspect shot following a pursuit that ended at South Coast Highway and Nyes Place. Photo courtesy of Marielena Verdugo.

A stretch of South Coast Highway was closed for hours Thursday night after a police pursuit ended in a shooting that wounded a 36-year-old man.

Around 6:19 p.m, a Laguna Beach officer attempted to stop a vehicle at Smithcliffs and South Coast Highway. The driver did not stop and struck two vehicles as he fled into Newport Beach, police said.

The driver turned the car around and headed south into Laguna Beach. An officer used a maneuver to disable the fleeing vehicle near Nyes Place. Police shot the driver as he was exiting the vehicle, Laguna Beach police chief Robert Thompson said in a press release.

It is not clear what prompted police to open fire. Authorities did not indicate whether the driver was armed.

Tobiah Paul Steinmetz of Jupiter, Florida was taken to a local hospital for treatment. The man remains in critical but stable condition as of Friday morning. The portion of South Coast Highway that was closed reopened about 2 a.m. Friday. 

No officers or bystanders were injured, including the drivers of the two vehicles that were struck at the beginning of the pursuit, police said. 

The Orange County District Attorney’s Office will conduct an investigation of the shooting. Laguna Beach police are also conducting an administrative probe of the incident.

The aftermath of a shooting involving Laguna Beach police officers followed a pursuit that ended at South Coast Highway and Nyes Place. Photo courtesy of Marielena Verdugo.
The aftermath of a shooting involving Laguna Beach police officers followed a pursuit that ended at South Coast Highway and Nyes Place. Photo courtesy of Marielena Verdugo.
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Daniel is currently managing editor for the Laguna Beach Independent. He first started reporting on Laguna Beach in 2018. Daniel moved to Orange County from his hometown of Santa Barbara in 2008 to attend Chapman University. He wrote for the college newspaper, The Panther, for nearly four years before obtaining a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and English with an emphasis in journalism. While attending Chapman, he started interning at the Orange County Register as a community blogger in Orange. In 2012, he was hired as a staff writer covering Orange and Villa Park. He went on to cover the Nixon Presidential Library & Museum as well as housing, development, education, water, and local politics in other Orange County cities. Since leaving the Register in 2015, he has written for Law360, the Foothills Sentry, the Newport Beach Independent, the Laguna Beach Independent, Los Angeles Times Community News, BehindtheBadge.com, and the California Business Journal. When Daniel isn't busy covering Laguna Beach, he serves as ​engagement editor for a nonprofit newsroom, The War Horse. He lives in Irvine with his wife and son.

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