POLICE CHASE ENDS IN DEATH; OFFICERS SHOOT, KILL ARMED MOTORIST AFTER 3-COUNTY PURSUIT.
A distraught Apple Valley man was shot and killed early Monday after leading police on a three-county chase, during which he repeatedly shot at officers and smashed through gates at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.
Stephen Bayer, 39, formerly of Simi Valley, led police all over the city, eventually stopping near a friend's house in the 4800 block of Leeds Street. There, he put a gun to his head as police tried to get him to surrender.
Just before 6 a.m., nearly four hours into the standoff, police fired several tear gas rounds into his Mercedes-Benz. Bayer got out and pointed a loaded .45-caliber pistol at officers, who opened fire, authorities said.
``He had every opportunity to surrender and didn't,'' said Lt. Gordon Weeks of the Simi Valley Police Department. ``It appears he was bent on either him shooting us or us shooting him. We'll never know which it was.''
The man's father, Sid Bayer of Victorville, was visiting relatives in Simi Valley and rushed to the scene, accompanied by Stephen Bayer's 18-year-old daughter, Amber.
``They came up with every excuse why we couldn't talk to him,'' Sid Bayer said.
``The negotiation team made a recording of me telling Steve to stop this and come out of the car. . . . The police have got a hell of a job. There are a lot of crazy people out there. But I'm his father. He would have listened to me,'' he said. ``Now he's lying in there with a hole in his head.''
Relatives said Stephen Bayer had been struggling with emotional and financial troubles, and Weeks said it was possible that Bayer was performing a practice that has become known as ``suicide by deputy,'' in which people confront police in the hopes they will respond with fatal force.
``I know he was suffering with depression,'' said Bayer's stepmother, June Tuttle of Moorpark. ``But he wouldn't have killed anybody. Maybe himself, but not anybody else.''
Born in Germany and raised in Pennsylvania, Bayer spent most of his adult life in Simi Valley. He moved about three years ago to Apple Valley where he took over his father's dental lab. Business tapered off, however, and Bayer grew homesick for his friends and family back in Ventura County.
In addition to Amber, Bayer had an 8-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter who live in Northern California. He lost his driver's license about a year ago as a penalty for falling behind in his child support payments, relatives said.
``He worked and worked and worked,'' Tuttle said. ``I think maybe everything got to him.''
The episode began about 11 p.m. Sunday when two San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department deputies saw Bayer's car parked alongside a road in Apple Valley. When deputies flashed a spotlight into the car, Bayer drove a short distance, then took off, driving southbound on Interstate 15, said Linda Whittaker, a spokeswoman for the Sheriff's Department.
Deputies later learned that Bayer's car was displaying a stolen license plate, Whittaker said.
While driving through the Cajon Pass, Bayer stuck a handgun out the window, and also tried to ram a CHP unit, officials said.
California Highway Patrol officers took over the chase, which continued through the Los Angeles area on the 10, 605, 210, 134, 5 and 118 freeways. Simi Valley police picked up the pursuit when Bayer entered their city.
Bayer got off the Ronald Reagan Freeway at First Street at 1:14 a.m., fired at a Simi Valley police car and then raced off to the Reagan Library, where he fired several more rounds, authorities said. Bayer crashed through the library gates, looped through the parking lot and continued his ride through town.
``As he got off the freeway, he was shooting at us,'' Weeks said. ``We took a round in the fender. . . . (The pursuit) lasted 47 minutes. He virtually went all over the city.''
Near Cochran and Rebecca streets, police deployed a spike strip, which flattened the tires of Bayer's car. He managed to drive to the 4800 block of Leeds Street, where he pulled into a driveway, parked and put a gun to his head.
The Simi Valley Police Department will conduct criminal and administrative investigations into the shooting. The results will be reviewed by the Ventura County District Attorney's Office to determine whether the shooting was justified.
Distraught and heartbroken, Sid Bayer stood outside Simi Valley Hospital, looking for answers.
``He shouldn't have been there,'' said Bayer, referring to his son. ``It's his fault. But . . . why didn't they let me talk to him?''
Police kill 8 in past 12 months
Law enforcement officers in Ventura County have been involved in eight fatal shootings in the past 12 months:
Albert Flores, 46, died Jan. 6, 1998, after he waved a knife at Oxnard police officers who were trying to arrest him for riding his bicycle while drunk.
Walter Brazenor, 51, of Thousand Oaks died March 25 of complications from gunshot wounds suffered Feb. 7 when he was shot after lunging at officers with a pair of knives.
Jason Todd Hayley, 28, a parolee with two felony convictions, was fatally shot April 18 after leading police on a foot chase and brandishing a handgun during an outdoor arts festival in Ventura.
Derek Brandon Myers, 26, was shot May 7 in Thousand Oaks after pointing a paintball gun that resembled a sawed-off shotgun at deputies. Officers found a suicide note in his car.
Nicholas Louis Nelson, 43, was shot Sept. 9 after firing his gun inside his Ventura apartment, then stepping outside and waving a gun at officers.
Han Huynh, 29, a mentally ill Camarillo resident whose family had reported him missing, was shot to death Sept. 22 in a residential driveway in Thousand Oaks after lunging at a deputy with a knife.
Roland Sheehan, 43, was shot Dec. 4 after a 10-hour standoff with Ventura police at the home of his ex-girlfriend Vicki Custer, 37, whom he had fatally stabbed.
Stephen Bayer, 39, of Apple Valley was fatally shot by Simi Valley police after firing at officers and pointing a handgun at others during a standoff at the end of a three-county chase.
Stephen Bayer was fatally shot by Simi Valley police after leading authorities on an hours-long chase from Victorville.
1. Victorville - Officers engage in pursuit.
2. Simi Valley - Pursuit moves onto surface streets.
3. Fugitive exits onto First Street, driving erratically through Simi Valley surface streets until . . .
4. Bayer is shot in the 4800 block of Leeds Street.
Photo, Box, Map
BOX: Police kill 8 in past 12 months (see text)
MAP: FATAL PURSUIT (see text)
Bradford Mar/Daily News
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|Publication:||Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)|
|Date:||Jan 19, 1999|
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