Suspect in California Amber Alert arrested on overpass after standoff; children safe

The California Highway Patrol arrested a father suspected in the murder of his wife and the abduction of his four young sons after a dramatic standoff Thursday on a San Diego freeway overpass.

Police issued an Amber Alert for Daniel Diego Perez's children after finding a woman's body inside the trunk of another car owned by the family. Authorities later confirmed that the body was Erica Perez, Perez's wife.

Police feared Perez, 43, might kill himself and his boys when he stopped on a freeway ramp after a pursuit that lasted about 10 minutes and reached speeds of 85 mph, California Highway Patrol Officer Kevin Pearlstein told The Associated Press.

A police negotiator spoke by phone with Perez who released two boys. Police sensed a sudden change in demeanor and sent in armored vehicles from both directions to block the car, along with about 25 San Diego County sheriff's deputies.

"Something definitely changed," Pearlstein said. "We decided we had to take a proactive approach instead of letting it play out."

Perez stepped out of the car holding one of the children, and walked toward the edge of the overpass. He let the child go and was tackled and taken into custody. reported that Perez attempted to jump from the elevated freeway, which is about 200-feet high. Officers shot Perez with a nonlethal bean bag and then tackled him.

The dramatic arrest capped three days of intense search efforts. One relative, Pamela Valdez, had pleaded with Perez not to harm the children, CBS Los Angeles reports.

"Please Daniel, please just drop the kids off," Pamela Valdez, the boy's aunt, said. "They are innocent."

Montebello Police Capt. Luis Lopez said Perez has a criminal history but couldn't detail previous charges. Family members told investigators the couple had a history of domestic violence, and Lopez confirmed that included incidents reported to police.

The boys were to return to Montebello on Thursday, Lopez said. They will be reunited with loved ones, and authorities will determine where they should be placed.

The Associated Press contributed to this report