Merced PD chief stresses need for more resources after officer shot

MERCED, Calif. (KFSN) -- A Merced police officer is home from the hospital one day after being shot. Action News has learned he was struck in the hand and at least once in his protective vest during a traffic stop.

Jaime Caudillo, 30, and Steven Rincon, 24, are accused of committing crimes that make police work so dangerous. An early morning traffic stop turned into a gun battle that wounded an officer and led to an hours-long manhunt on Saturday. Merced Police Chief Norm Andrade says it's yet another example of why he needs more resources.

"I do need more manpower. I do need some technology. All of those things combined," he said.

Deputies with canines and SWAT team members combed through a four-block radius after the shooting, searching for two suspects. The men sped off after officers returned fire at them and ditched their car in a nearby alley. Frightened neighbors heard the gunfire start around 2:30 a.m.

"Who knows where a stray is going to go. All I did is duck my head and got out of the way," said Paul Mann.

Both the suspects were eventually found hiding at homes near the scene of the shootout. Caudillo was injured when police shot back at him, and Rincon was hurt when he put up a fight when police arrested him.

Chief Andrade admitted his police department is spread thin. He says he has few resources and overworked officers, so he appreciated all the support from surrounding agencies.

"We were up here, most of our people were tied up here. Chief Jerry Dyer took it upon himself to go to the hospital, meet with the family and talk with our officer. That's just outstanding, and I thank him dearly for that," said Chief Andrade.

Andrade says the injured officer had surgery on his right hand and will have to go to rehab now that he's out of the hospital. He's a veteran police officer with the department and has a wife and children.

The two officers who fired at the suspects are on paid administrative leave.

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