The three officers hit by gunfire this afternoon are expected to be okay. But police say it was definitely a close call, at least one officer may be alive all thanks to wearing his bullet proof vest. Police say they were looking for 26-year-old Jerry Vue, who has a history of violence.
The officers were outside an apartment near Butler and Peach when a gunman opened fire. Investigators knew when they searched an apartment in Southeast Fresno they were looking for a dangerous person.
"You have to make the assumption that they may be armed, may be lying in wait," Russell York with the U.S. Marshall's Service said.
Witnesses saw three wounded officers and another man go down.
"They were taking a guy out to the car and taking another person and sitting him by the tree. That might have been police officer. They were working on him and an ambulance came and took him away. I heard about five gunshots," one witness said.
On Tuesday afternoon a special U.S. Marshall Task Force was outside an apartment complex in Southeast Fresno looking Vue. He has been on their radar for a year and a half. The task force knew Vue was wanted for kidnapping, assault with deadly weapon and sexual assault of a girlfriend in Fresno County.
"We already had information the subject could be violent, the original case he was wanted for was very violent," Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims said.
A task force of parole agents, marshals and deputies got a tip Vue may have been camping out at an apartment. When they tried to clear it a gunman started shooting.
"At some point when they were inside the garage area the suspect appeared from an area of clothing and began fire at the officers that were inside," Police Chief Jerry Dyer said.
Fresno police say shrapnel from the gunfire hit a deputy in the face. It also hit a U.S. Marshal and at least one shot slammed into the bullet proof vest of a parole agent.
"Thank god they were wearing their ballistic vests because that does appear to be what saved at least one of their lives," Dyer said.
Officers killed the shooter. The violence took place near three schools. Sunnyside High School, Ayer and Greenberg Elementary went into lockdown for 45 minutes.
Parents couldn't believe how close their students were to extreme violence.
"Shocked because I didn't even know I was just coming through when I bumped into someone else. They said there was a shootout. And I felt oh so nervous," parent Rose Gona said.
Sheriff Mims went to Community Regional Medical center to visit with the three wounded officers. At least two of the officers have been released from the hospital. The sheriff believes the officers will be okay and well enough to continue with their careers in law enforcement.