Fresno County deputies shoot, kill man after high-speed pursuit

Fresno County Sheriff's deputies shot and killed a man after a high-speed chase ended in an orchard early Saturday.
April 19, 2014 2:18:54 PM PDT
Fresno County Sheriff's deputies shot and killed a man after a high-speed chase ended in an orchard early Saturday morning.

Authorities say the driver reached speeds of more than 100 mph during the pursuit that started in the city of Fresno and ended around 2:30 a.m. in the county at Muscat and Cornelia. That's where deputies shot the man after they say he pointed a gun at them.

The sheriff's office is waiting on the results of an autopsy before revealing the man's identity, but described him as a 50-year-old Hispanic man. Authorities are hoping the identity of the driver will help determine what led up to the officer-involved shooting in Fresno County.

"Once we know who the person is, we can try to determine why he was in the area he was in, and why he acted the way he did," said Lt. Mark Padilla with the Fresno County Sheriff's Office.

Padilla says Fresno police were attempting to pull the man over for vehicle violations, when he led them on a chase southwest of Fresno.

"Their helicopter, Air 1, followed the vehicle out to this location at Cornelia and Muscat," said Padilla.

That's when he says officers called the Fresno County Sheriff's Office and California Highway Patrol for backup.

"Officers from the California Highway Patrol were attempting to contact the driver who ran from them. A request for assistance, code 3, was made by CHP, which time sheriff's deputies also responded and arrived on scene," said Padilla.

The man then exited the SUV and ran away. Aided by a search dog, Padilla says three sheriff's deputies found the man hiding in a peach orchard and opened fire when they saw a firearm pointed right at them.

"He was in a tree, a peach tree, and was partially hidden," said Padilla.

Padilla says all three deputies fired, but wouldn't say how many times the man was struck. He says the investigation must be completed before officials will disclose the type of weapon the man had in his possession.

"We need to confirm the identity of the deceased person, as well as continue some interviews with officers that were on scene," said Padilla.

The sheriff's office says police were responding to a call of loud music coming from a vehicle near Whitesbridge, when the man pulled away in his SUV. Following a search of the vehicle, they say there was damage to the steering column, but the vehicle didn't appear to be stolen.

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