A driver who led police on a wild high-speed pursuit through Los Angeles Thursday that included doing doughnuts on Hollywood Boulevard and a cruise along the Walk of Fame was trained as a tactical driver by the military.
The pursuit was a basic tour of Los Angeles hot spots as the suspects sped ahead of authorities with the top down on rain-slicked roads for more than an hour, all broadcast in day-time television. The two were seen gesturing to cops, posing for selfies, and at times driving on the wrong side to evade authorities.
The man behind the wheel, identified as 20-year-old Herschel Reynolds, was trained as a tactical driver by the Marine Corps, military officials confirmed to BuzzFeed News.
But Reynolds, who is currently being held in lieu of $50,000 bail, was discharged from his service early because the "character of his service was incongruent with Marine Corps’ expectations and standards," the Pentagon told the LA Times.
Capt. Dominic Pitron of the Marine Corps told BuzzFeed News Reynolds served from 2014 to 2016, but said he could not provide the exact reason Reynolds ended his service early.
During Thursday's pursuit, with Los Angeles police, sheriff's deputies, and the California Highway Patrol behind them, the driver and his passenger stopped traffic on Hollywood Boulevard — one of the busiest streets in L.A. — to do doughnuts.
As news choppers followed, the two men inside lowered the top on the blue Mustang and appeared to make gestures as the chase took social media by storm.
A Los Angeles Police spokesman told BuzzFeed News officers were assisting sheriff's deputies with the pursuit.
The chase began in the suburban city of Cerritos at about 1:30 p.m., when deputies were called to a residential burglary, according to the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department.
After getting a description from neighbors of the burglary victims, a sheriff's helicopter spotted the vehicle and continued following the car, even though patrol cars had to abandon the pursuit because of the suspects' erratic driving and dangerous wet roads, the department said in a statement.
Reynolds and his passenger, identified as 19-year-old Isaiah Young, were at one point temporarily blocked by a TMZ tour bus, which takes sightseers by celebrity-filled restaurants and homes.
The two drove through some of the busiest, traffic-ridden areas of Los Angeles, at times swerving toward the shoulder to avoid standstill traffic.
The driver came close to hitting other cars and pedestrians during the hour-long pursuit, and crashed into the back of at least one car in the chase.
Spike strips put down by police appeared to flatten one of the tires, prompting the car to become increasingly difficult to maneuver and the chase slowed down.
Eventually, the suspects stopped in a South Los Angeles neighborhood and waited outside the car for police to arrive, even high-fiving spectators.
Reynolds walked out of the car, and leaned on the hood while cops caught up.
It took authorities several minutes to arrive to the scene. Meanwhile, the two men posed for selfies with people in the neighborhood.
Police chases often come to tense endings, with police drawing their weapons and ordering suspects into the ground. This time, however, sheriff deputies calmly drove up to the parked car.
The suspects placed their hands behind their back, and coolly walked toward deputies to be taken into custody.
Salvador Hernandez is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.
Contact Salvador Hernandez at email@example.com.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.