Lake Elsinore

Search Warrants Served in Connection With Pursuit, Deadly Deputy Shooting

Riverside County Sheriff's officials, with the help of the FBI, served search warrants in Orange and Tustin following a fatal deputy shooting in Lake Elsinore, authorities said.

The warrants, which were served Thursday night, were related to the shooting that came at the end of a violent pursuit in Riverside County a night earlier, Riverside sheriff's deputies said.

A suspected drunken driver who fired shots at pursuing law enforcement officers and a sheriff's helicopter was killed in an exchange of gunfire with SWAT deputies in Lake Elsinore.

The first warrant was served at a private residence in the 1400 block of San Juan Street in Tustin and the second, an Orange liquor store in the 500 block of Tustin Street, authorities said. The FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force assisted the Riverside County Sheriff's Department in serving the warrants, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said.

There was no immediate word of arrests and or what kind of warrants were served or how they related to the Lake Elsinore shootout.

The pursuit began around 8:50 p.m. Wednesday when a California Highway Patrol officer, stationed in the Riverside area, was on routine patrol and spotted the driver of Ford 150 pickup truck while traveling south on Interstate 15, approaching Indian Truck Trail, according to CHP Public Information Officer Dan Olivas.

The officer pulled the driver over, stopping him on the right shoulder, Olivas said, adding that he then became "extremely uncooperative," making verbal threats and covert movements inside the vehicle, prompting the officer to retreat and take cover behind a nearby barrier.

The driver exited his vehicle with a rifle and began shooting at the patrol vehicle, striking it several times and disabling it, Olivas said. He then re-entered his vehicle and fled southbound Interstate 15.

A nearby CHP officer monitored the call of shots fired and responded to the location of the shooting, and a pursuit ensued. As it unfolded, the driver repeatedly fired at the pursuing CHP units and Riverside County sheriff's deputies who had joined the chase, according to Olivas and Vasquez. The driver also fired shots at a sheriff's helicopter, deputy Mike Vasquez said.

The driver exited the freeway at the Railroad Canyon Road offramp and turned left onto eastbound Railroad Canyon Road, and drove over several city streets until he stopped at Villa Milano and Villa Roma in the Tuscany Hills residential section of Lake Elsinore, Olivas said.

The driver exited his vehicle and fired upon deputies, and at least one returned fire, according to Vasquez. The driver then tried to enter one home and fired shots into another, Vasquez said.

A sheriff's SWAT team responded to the scene and was fired upon by the suspect, resulting in another exchange of gunfire, during which the suspect was struck, Vasquez said.

"Deputies rendered medical aid but the suspect ultimately succumbed to his injuries," Vasquez said.

His name was withheld pending family notification.

No deputies, officers or members of the public were injured.

"The deputies involved have been placed on administrative leave per department policy," according to Vasquez, who said their names were not being released at this time.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
Contact Us