Story by Associated Press
LOS ANGELES -- A gunman walked down the middle of a street in the heart of Hollywood Friday, firing on passing cars and wounding a driver before police shot and killed him.
The unidentified man, who in video clips had short hair and wore jeans and a white tank top, was pronounced dead at the scene, Los Angeles police Officer Cleon Joseph said. No officers were hurt.
Oscar Herrera, a witness, said he saw the gunman walking down the middle of Vine Street near Sunset Boulevard, firing at least nine shots into the air and at passing cars while shouting "kill me" and "I'm gonna die!"
"People were running all over," Herrera told KABC-TV. "People was ducking."
But a man who captured video of the gunman from a window several stories above the street could also be heard on the recording screaming "shoot me," "kill me" and "I'm gonna die."
Chris Johns, who filmed from his apartment, told KABC he was trying to distract and divert the gunman from shooting anyone on the street.
John said he saw a plainclothes officer shoot the man.
The 40-year-old male driver of a Mercedes-Benz was wounded in his upper body and taken to a hospital in unknown condition. A truck and another car were struck by bullets.
The gunman eventually ran out of ammunition and pulled a knife before a policeman fired at him four or five times, Herrera said.
Dave Pepper told KCAL-TV that he was in his car when the gunman came at him.
"This guy came running across the street and he put the gun right up to this window," Pepper said as he sat in the car. "Why he didn't pull the trigger I don't know. ... I thought maybe he was out of bullets."
Investigators were trying to determine a motive for the attack. The area was cordoned off and the gunman lay under a white sheet in the street hours after the gunfire, leaving traffic tangled on busy Hollywood streets.
The area is packed with stores and restaurants, including the Cinerama Dome and Amoeba Records.
Some witnesses described the surreal incident as something that might have been staged on a movie location, a common sight around Los Angeles.
"When I heard it, I didn't react to it being real," said Greg Watkins, who was walking along the street when the shooting began.
"This is Hollywood, and they do film stuff all the time," Watkins told the Los Angeles Times. "I honestly thought they were filming something."
UPDATE -- Diana Suarez, a 30-year-old motion graphics designer, was on her way to work this morning when she saw something out of the ordinary.
She told The Huffington Post that while she was stopped at the red light on Sunset Boulevard and Vine Street, a car in the left-turn lane made a hard right and cut through three lanes of the intersection. Thinking it was nothing more than an aggressive motorist, Suarez was horrified to see the reason for the dangerous driving move: a man was strolling down the middle of Vine Street, waving a gun in the air.
"He looked right at me," remembered Suarez. Luckily there was just enough room between her car, in the middle lane, and a truck in the right lane for her to squeeze through and escape. "I just peeled out, turned into the Chase bank and climbed over the wall until the chaos was over," Suarez recalled. A colleague from her office at Buzz Media talked her through the incident on her cellphone, and others from her work came by later to pick her up.
"I really couldn't believe that so many cars just stayed there" when the gunman was shooting, said Suarez. "There really was just nowhere to go because all the cars were piling up."
According to both Suarez and other reports on Twitter, the gunman seemed to be firing randomly, although Suarez observed that "he had plenty of opportunity to shoot anyone because we were all stuck there."
Suarez described him as a thin caucasian man wearing baggy pants and a white undershirt tanktop. She also thinks he may have been wearing a black baseball cap.