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Highway patrol pursue Simpson

LOS ANGELES, June 17 -- More than two dozen California highway patrol cars surrounded a white Bronco carrying the fugitive O.J. Simpson who disappeared shortly after he was charged with the murders of his ex- wife and her friend.

The car arrived at Simpson's home after a 90-minute chase along major Los Angeles freeways.

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Simpson reportedly was in the back seat with a gun to his head. He had asked to see his mother, and told police he refused to surrender, KCBS television reported.

The chase on major highways in Los Angeles began about 9:30 p.m. EDT and was continuing an hour later as the traditionally busy freeways were cleared of cars and drivers stopped on overpasses to watch the bizarre chase.

The chase was televised nationally shortly after the car was spotted in Lake Forest, traveling on Interstate Highway 5. The vehicle, owned by his close friend Allan Cowlings, then headed west on Riverside Freeway and finally north on San Diego Freeway before turning off on Sunset Boulevard, heading toward his home.

Unconfirmed reports indicated that Simpson called authorities from a cellular phone, informed them he would not surrender to police and demanded to be taken to his mother's house.

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KCBS sportscaster Jim Hill attempted to deliver a message to Simpson via local radio stations, while a weeping Los Angeles Raiders quarterback Vince Evans urged Simpson to pull over.

'I just want him to know how much he's loved,' Evans said.

Earlier Friday, Simpson's attorney, Robert Shapiro, pleaded for Simpson to surrender.

Simpson, charged with two counts of murder that, if convicted, could draw the death penalty, disappeared before police arrived at a friend's San Fernando Valley home to escort him to the police department where he was to be charged formally.

A sedated Simpson and his former USC teammate and longtime friend Allen Cowlings vanished from Cowlings' home while Shapiro and four doctors were planning his surrender in an upstairs conference room.

'We are all shocked by the turn of events,' said Shapiro, who issued a plea for Simpson to turn himself in.

However, Shapiro said he was 'concerned' about Simpson's well- being, especially in light of the letter, read by friend Robert Kardashian, in which Simpson said:

'I think of my life and feel I've done most of the right things, so why do I end up like this. I can't go on. No matter what the outcome, people will point and look. I can't take that. I can't subject my children to that. This way they can move on and move on with their lives. Please if I've done anything worthwhile in my life, let my kids live in peace from the press.

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'Don't feel sorry for me. I've had a great life, great friends. Please think of the real O.J. and not this lost person. Thanks for making my life special, I hope I helped yours.'

Since the deaths of Nicole Simpson, 35, and her friend, Ronald Lyle Goldman, 25, Shapiro said Simpson has been depressed and under doctors' care for his condition.

Simpson fled just hours after the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office filed two counts of first-degree murder with special circumstances against Simpson in the Sunday night slayings outside his ex-wife's luxury condominium in the Brentwood district.

Simpson, however, in his letter to the public said, 'First, everyone understand I have nothing to do with Nicole's murder. I loved her, always have and always will. If we had a problem it's because I loved her so much.'

'I am very concerned about his welfare,' Shapiro said, adding also that two sealed letters were addressed to Simpson's children and mother.

He said he released the letter read by Kardashian because they were 'the last words I had from O.J.'

Earlier in the day, Comdr. David Gascon said police were 'actively searching' for Simpson.

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'The Los Angeles Police Department is very unhappy with the activities surrounding his failure to surrender and we will be looking further into those activities, including anyone who may have intervened on his behalf,' Gascon said. 'Mr. Simpson is out there and we will find him.... We need to find him, we need to apprehend him, bring him to justice.'

Police believe Simpson was still in the Los Angeles area, Gascon said.

'Mr. Simpson is a fugitive of justice,' Los Angeles County District Attorney Gil Garcetti said, warning that anyone assisting Simpson in fleeing would be committing a felony. 'We will find Mr. Simpson and we are going to bring him to justice.'

Garcetti defended his office and the Los Angeles Police Department for losing track of Simpson.

'If in fact we had known where Mr. Simpson was, he would have been arrested,' Garcetti said. 'We would not have asked him to surrender.'

He said authorities did not have sufficient evidence against Simpson until late Thursday, and that the LAPD worked all night to prepare the necessary documents before an arrest warrant could be issued.

But one LAPD official criticized the department for waiting to arrest Simpson.

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'I'm amazed anyone in our department let it come to this,' Sgt. Doug Abney said, adding that many patrol-level officers had wondered why there had been a delay in arresting Simpson.

Police have advised that Simpson may be driving a white Isuzu Trooper or black Mercedes-Benz and that he is dangerous and may be armed.

Simpson pleaded no contest in 1989 to misdemeanor spousal battery for an attack in which he threatened to kill his wife as he was hitting her. The couple divorced in 1992, but friends say they were trying to reconcile.

Simpson, whose full name is Orenthal James Simpson, won the Heisman Trophy as the nation's best college football player in 1968 and went on to an extraordinary 11-year career in the National Football League, where he rushed for more than 11,000 yards for Buffalo and the San Francisco 49ers. He was the league's Most Valuable Player in 1973 when he ran for a record 2,003 yards.

After retiring from football, Simpson embarked on an acting career, starring in such films as the three 'Naked Gun' movies and the 'Towering Inferno.'

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