SANTA MONICA, Calif. -- A gang member wanted for murder shot and wounded five people and took 15 others hostage on the Santa Monica Pier before being talked into surrendering and releasing his last two captives early Tuesday, police said.
The pier and its small amusement park, restaurants and arcade remained closed much of the day as police collected evidence and interviewed more than 100 witnesses who were huddled at the west end of the pier during the five-hour hostage crisis.
The confrontation started around 1:04 a.m. when San Bernardino County sheriff's deputies told Santa Monica police that a pair of men wanted for three separate gang-related killings were on the pier, Santa Monica police Lt. Gary Gallinot said.
The two men were spotted talking on a pay phone near the Playland Arcade. One man, identified as Jose Flores, 30, was arrested after a scuffle and two weapons were confiscated, Gallinot said.
The second man, Oswaldo Amezcua, 25, ran toward the arcade, turned and fired at officers who were chasing him, police said. Three officers, a 17-year-old boy and a 35-year-old woman were wounded, Gallinot said.
Amezcua then took about 15 hostages inside the arcade, Gallinot said. Between 75 and 100 patrons and employees were herded into a restaurant at the ocean end of the pier and guarded for the duration of the crisis.
Police, deputies and hostage negotiators then surrounded the pier with its glowing neon sign, its Ferris wheel in the background and the Pacific Ocean glistening under the glare of television helicopter lights.
A crisis negotiator was brought in after Amezcua took hostages in the Playland Arcade. Three children and a woman were released around 4 a.m., Gallinot said. In the next two hours, more hostages were released unharmed and only two hostages remained around 6:15 a.m.
A shirtless Amezcua surrendered peacefully about 6:40 a.m. and was taken into custody. He faces four counts of attempted murder and 15 counts of kidnapping, said Santa Monica Police Chief James Butts.
Amezcua and Flores were wanted for gang-related homicides that happened last month in Victorville and Ontario, said Cindy Beavers, spokeswoman for the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department.
The pair were also wanted for a June 25 shootout with a sheriff's deputy in Fontana, she said. The deputy was not injured.
''This could have been disastrous,'' Gallinot said.
A female police officer shot in the shoulder and two male officers shot in the leg remain hospitalized. The 17-year-old boy remained in the hospital with a leg wound. The woman, shot in the leg, was released.
The Santa Monica Pier draws thousands of visitors during the summer months with clubs, food stands and a small amusement park. The pier has been a favorite location for Hollywood movies such as ''The Sting.''
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