California cop injured, homicide suspect dead after OnStar shuts down truck on hours-long police chase

Roberto Cazares Salgado allegedly shot and killed a man in his Vista, California, driveway before leading police on a chase up Interstate 5

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A fleeing homicide suspect in California led officers from three jurisdictions on an hours-long car chase before they discovered the vehicle had an OnStar device and could be shut down with an electronic signal.

Roberto Salgado, 39, was wanted in connection with a Sunday shooting in Vista, California, when an Escondido police officer spotted him driving about 30 miles north of San Diego with a woman in his car at 11:19 p.m. PT Sunday.

He took off and led officers from Escondido, Oceanside and the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department on a roughly three-hour car chase, Lt. Bode Berreth, an Escondido police spokesman, said Monday. 

FILE - An aerial photo taken above Escondido, California.

FILE - An aerial photo taken above Escondido, California. (Thomas De Wever)

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Salgado drove up Interstate 5, then circled back to Escondido, according to investigators.

At some point, officers threw down a spike strip and punctured three of his tires, Berreth said, but he kept driving anyway.

Then police discovered the pickup was equipped with OnStar, GM’s vehicular emergency services subsidiary, and the company shut it down remotely at around 2:50 a.m. Monday. Berreth said it was the first time that he’s aware of that OnStar stepped in to remotely disable a fleeing suspect’s vehicle.

OnStar did not immediately respond to requests for comment Monday. GM’s corporate offices were closed all week.

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Once Salgado’s truck came to a stop, he hopped out and allegedly opened fire on two responding officers, striking one. They returned fire. Salgado was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.

Berreth said that the injured officer’s vest stopped the bullet – but a fragment or some other object struck him in the side.

"The bullet hit him in the vest," he said. "There was some piece of material that penetrated into his left flank."

The results of a ballistics investigation were not yet available.

"I did speak with him this morning," Berreth said. "He seemed to be in good spirits. He was walking. He was moving. He was doing well."

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Salgado allegedly gunned down 42-year-old Florencio Rodriguez in his Vista driveway early Sunday evening, according to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.

Authorities were still looking into a motive Monday evening, according to department spokesman Lt. Thomas Seiver. 

But the two were known to one another – with Rodriguez the husband of Salgado's ex-girlfriend's sister, he said.

When police finally stopped Salgado early Monday morning, his female cousin was in the passenger seat. Authorities said she was not considered a suspect.

As for Salgado, he had a criminal history and was spotted leaving the scene of the Vista homicide in a "unique" pickup truck, according to investigators.