Investigators say Ricky Burciaga was riding in the passenger seat and Mario Rangel was driving, when the passenger began staring the officer down. He became uneasy and reached into his work bag and grabbed his duty weapon. But, he also notified someone else.
"The officer was on the phone with his wife at the time, on speaker phone," said Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer. "Felt that something was about to happen. He told his wife to write down this license plate number in case something happened."
Police say the suspects waited until the perfect opportunity to make their next move.
At the stoplight at Butler and Cedar, the off-duty officer was stopped behind one car in the number one lane. In the number two lane another car was waiting and even though they could've pulled directly next to the officer, they stayed a little ways behind. That's when investigators say the officer realized he was in a bad situation.
Chief Dyer explained, "And the officer actually felt trapped in his own words because of the vehicle in front of him and the suspect vehicle to the rear and did not feel he could escape."
Seconds later, police say Burciaga asked the officer if he was in a gang, then fired. Right now, the police chief has no reason to believe the suspects knew the man they were shooting at was an officer.
"But we will never know that simply because they are not cooperating with us in the investigation," said Chief Dyer. "And they are gang members, and that's what gang members do."
Both Burciaga and Rangel are expected to survive. Police say they have criminal histories that include narcotics and weapons charges.
Earlier this year, Rangel was arrested on gun charges for trying to hide a loaded, stolen gun in a vehicle. When officers searched the car and Rangel's home, they found two posters from the "Use A Gun And You're Done" campaign. Now, he is facing attempted murder charges.
The police chief says their bold moves Monday night will not be tolerated. So now, officers are re-committing to takedown the biggest gang in town. The gang police say the suspects both claim.
"This was an off-duty police officer who could've been anyone in the community and we're going to make sure that we do everything in our power to prevent these things from occurring again. I promise you."
ABC30 is not identifying the officer because the police chief says he could be the target of retaliation. The officer is now on paid administrative leave.
The suspects were both caught after one showed up at the hospital and another had a family member call an ambulance. But the car they were in, along with the gun they used are still missing.