Traffic across the Bay Area felt the impact of a nearly eight-hour closure of westbound Interstate 80 in Emeryville after a police standoff Wednesday led to the fatal shooting of a homicide suspect.
The suspect, who has been identified as Demilo Trayuon Hodge, 45, of San Leandro, was sought by Fairfield police officers in connection with the 2015 homicide of William Freeman, according to Lt. Rob Lenke. News reports indicate that the 68-year-old man was gunned down on Dec. 10.
When Fairfield officers saw Hodge Wednesday and tried to conduct a traffic stop, he failed to yield. Instead, he led them on a pursuit around 9 a.m., Lenke said.
In an attempt to flee from police, Hodge headed to westbound I-80. That's where California Highway Patrol officers from Contra Costa County, who were investigating a crash in the eastbound lanes, became involved in the effort to stop the suspect. Since they were already at the scene, the officers were able to quickly deploy spike strips near University Avenue and stop the black SUV that Hodge was driving, Cmmdr. Dan Seaman said.
"The vehicle collided with a concrete barrier ... lost a front wheel then came to a stop on westbound 80," said CHP officer Matthew Hamer.
A standoff ensued near the Powell Street exit in Emeryville, with officers negotiating with Hodge via voice commands and by calling his cell phone, said Emeryville police Capt. Oliver Collins. Hodge refused to cooperate with demands to surrender and instead "exited the vehicle and started shooting at officers," Lenke said.
"The end result was officers discharging firearms at the suspect," Collins said.
Footage from the scene shows roughly half a dozen police cars that stopped just short of the car. Officers disembarked, drew their guns and aimed their weapons in the Hodge's direction.
Shortly thereafter, Hodge poked his head and arms out of the driver's window before jumping out of the vehicle. He then shot in the police's direction before dropping to the ground after officers returned a volley of gunfire.
"In this incident, shots were being fired at officers so officers fearing for their lives had to engage," said Lt. Felix Tan with the Richmond Police Department.
A police K-9 ran toward Hodge, who was eventually placed in a vehicle and taken away from the scene. Hodge was transported to a hospital, but he succumbed to his injuries, police said.
According to Collins, officers from both Fairfield and Richmond shot at Hodge multiple times. Exactly how many police officers opened fire and how many rounds were fired remain unknown.
The officers involved have been "sequestered by their individual agencies," said Collins, adding that the Emeryville Police Department's only involvement in the case is its investigation into the "criminal aspect" of the officer-involved shooting.
Hodge had a firearm, which he discharged near or at the officers, said Collins, who couldn't confirm who fired first.
An investigation is ongoing, but it could take weeks or months to go through evidence, transcripts and videos, Collins said. After that, the case will be turned over to the Alameda County District Attorney's Office.
All lanes of I-80 were shut down while investigators canvassed the scene and combed the area for evidence. The eastbound lanes were reopened around 11:10 a.m., but no such luck for commuters stuck on the westbound lanes. They weren't allowed to move until 5 p.m.
Nearby roadways also morphed into virtual parking lots. From NBC Bay Area's SkyRanger, cars could be seen exiting the freeway in the opposite direction as authorities tried to help people navigate around the incident.
"We're sincerely sorry for the major traffic delays" that were felt not only around the East Bay, but also in San Francisco, said Emeryville police Chief Jennifer Tejada.
A commuter told NBC Bay Area that he had opted to take I-80 to Sacramento because the alternative, State Route 24, was a "mess." He ended up spending three hours in the gridlock. Also on Wednesday morning, a woman was struck by a car and killed on SR 24, prompting westbound lane closures near Pleasant Hill Road in Lafayette.
One woman missed a job interview, while another, identified as Debbie Bhurtyao, was stopped very close to where she works.
"Never been in one of these situations," she said, "especially being 15 seconds away from work and now I will be two hours late."
Bhurtyao was among the first people to get stuck behind the police blockade and then interviewed by CHP officers.
"I was shocked. I thought he was dead," said Bhurtyao, who described hearing about 20 to 30 shots being fired. "Unfortunately, I think that guy was on a suicide mission."
Even after cars were allowed back on westbound I-80, officials said drivers should expect lengthy residual delays.
NBC Bay Area's Brendan Weber and Anser Hassan contributed to this report.