Deputy killed while serving eviction notice in Modesto


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UPDATE - Thursday, April 12, 2012 at 11:00 p.m.

A house went up in flames in Modesto around 10pm Thursday night. It is the home of the suspect involved in the shooting death of a sheriff's deputy. A civilian was also shot and killed.

It's not clear how the fire started. Investigators say they did not deploy any devices that could have sparked that fire. Investigators had been involved in a standoff for several hours.

Watch later editions of Action News for the latest on this developing story.


The shooting led to a standoff with a suspect who was believed to be holed up inside an apartment at the Whispering Woods development in Modesto.

More than 100 law enforcement officers from the Central Valley arrived at the scene. FBI and SWAT teams surrounded the building and authorities evacuated nearby residents while others remained in their homes.

Authorities later fired flash grenades and tear gas in the area where the shooting occurred.

The incident began about 11 a.m., when two Stanislaus County deputies went to the north Modesto home to deliver the notice, said Sheriff Adam Christianson, who called the incident "another dark day" for law enforcement in California.

"One of my valued members of my team is dead," a distraught Christianson told reporters. "I am overwhelmingly frustrated that we don't have the sufficient resources to protect the community."

Neighbors Levi Middleton and Jennifer Diaz told the Modesto Bee ( ) they heard multiple gunshots in rapid succession, as if fired from a semi-automatic weapon.

Christianson said he believed that his deputies did not return fire.

The names of those killed were not immediately released. Sheriff's officials did not release any details about the civilian fatality.

Authorities told the Bee the suspect is in his mid-40s and may have had military training. Sgt. Anthony Bejaran would not confirm if authorities had been in contact with the suspect.

"There's not much more information I can give out," said Bejaran, a sheriff's spokesman.

The Whispering Woods development opened in 2002 on the site of the former Prescott Estates, which was known for decades as one of the most crime-plagued and substandard housing areas in Modesto, according to the Bee.

The city shut down Prescott Estates, and the property was cleaned and extensively remodeled. Officer Chris Adams, a Modesto police spokesman, said the area isn't as crime-ridden as it was a few years ago.

He said authorities would be at the scene for the long haul, if necessary.

"At this point, it's about containment, keeping the suspect within our perimeter and hoping for a safe and peaceful resolution," Adams said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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