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LOS ANGELES – The Alabama man accused of trying to kidnap a woman and engaging police in a four-hour standoff on a major highway was described by those who know him as a peaceful family man and school volunteer.
Police say they don’t know what might have motivated Dennis Elliot Shellhouse, who was visiting Southern California from Phenix City, Ala., on business.
Shellhouse, 45, remained hospitalized with dog bite and gunshot wounds Thursday, two days after the highway chase and standoff that backed up traffic for miles.
Shellhouse’s mother said he was taking diet pills and antidepressants but was otherwise healthy.
“He may have gone crazy,” Jane Shellhouse, 67, told the Daily News of Los Angeles by phone. “It is not like him to do something like this.”
She said he is an industrial trainer who owns his own company, attends church with his family and mentors his 14-year-old son’s high school robotics team. He was a Phenix City Schools Heart of the Community Volunteer in 2004 and 2005.
South Girard School Assistant Principal Joshua Laney said he could only believe the case was one of mistaken identity.
“There’s no way that the guy that I know would ever attempt to take anybody hostage for money,” Laney said.
Upon release from the hospital, Shellhouse is expected to be booked in Los Angeles on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, authorities said. He also faces charges related to the attempted kidnapping in Ventura County, a sheriff’s spokesman said.
Shellhouse has no criminal record in his hometown, said Lee County, Ala., Sheriff Jay Jones.
Tuesday’s chase began after an armed man posing as a delivery courier tried to kidnap a woman from her porch. The woman got away, and he fled in a van, leading officers on a 75-mile chase. They got him to stop by ramming the vehicle, but he held them at bay for hours before they shot out a window and shoved a tear gas grenade inside.
He was wounded by a deputy after he allegedly pointed a gun, and was bit by a dog sent to drag him out of the van.