SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAINS (CBS SF) – The closure of Highway 17 that started late Thursday morning for a suspect search finally came to a partial end with both directions reopening late Thursday evening, according to the California Highway Patrol.
• UPDATE: Manhunt For Robbery Suspect Continues
CHP anticipates the northbound direction to reopen soon.
Authorities were searching for an alleged bank-robbery suspect in the Santa Cruz Mountains community of Redwood Estates most of the day.
A six-mile stretch of the main artery between Santa Cruz and the Bay Area was closed in both directions all day long.
Northbound Highway 17 was set to stay closed longer because crime-scene investigators were still processing the suspect’s car for evidence in the northbound lanes of the freeway.
The incident began when the suspect allegedly robbed a bank in Scotts Valley at around 10 a.m. Scotts Valley police officers pursued the suspect over the hill into Santa Clara County.
The Scotts Valley police officer fired several shots near Redwood Estates, according to authorities. The suspect got into a crash on Highway 17 and took off running.
“There was an officer involved shooting by a Scotts Valley police officer,” said Richard Glennon with the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office. “It’s unknown how many rounds were discharged. We have no reports to any injuries to any officers. The suspect is still at large and unknown if the suspect is injured.”
Authorities believe the suspect is armed and dangerous.
The search started sometime before 10:50 a.m., which is when sheriff’s officials locked down Lexington Elementary School, located off of state Highway 17 north of Redwood Estates.
The school’s principal was told to keep students inside, and parents are not being allowed to pick up their children until further notice, according to Los Gatos Union School District Superintendent Diana Abbati.
Abbati told KPIX 5 that the lockdown was lifted early Thursday afternoon.
The Santa Clara County Sheriff’s office has told residents in the Redwood Estates area to stay clear of the area or shelter in place as they search for the suspect. Deputies describe the suspect as a male wearing a black jacket and dark jeans.
The sheriff’s office also released a picture of the suspect.
Northbound traffic is being diverted onto Summit Road.
Neighbors have not been evacuated, but they are sheltering in place.
All along the adjacent roads where the suspect jumped out and ran, deputies are posted and on the lookout. Heavily armed SWAT officers and deputies have been searching house to house and yard to yard for the suspect.
The search will continue into the night. Authorities were asking residents to double check their properties in the Redwood Estates area as they return home from work or school and to report anything suspicious immediately to police.
Many locals were more aggravated than frightened by the ongoing suspect search.
“It’s really frustrating. I left 40 minutes early to get to work, and I’m still not going to be able to get to work on time,” said Ruth Whitaker, who works as a nurse. “I’m not worried or scared. I would just like to get onto the freeway.”
Highway 9, which runs parallel to Highway 17, is closed at the Santa Clara/Santa Cruz County line and near Felton due to mudslides.
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