TULARE COUNTY, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) — Tulare County authorities said a CHP officer is expected to be OK, following a shootout and brawl with a pursuit suspect who allegedly opened fire on multiple officers during the pursuit. The suspect was shot and wounded by backup law enforcement at the scene.
The Tulare County Sheriff’s Office said the suspect was involved in an argument with several others at a national park. The suspect was said to have approached a group with a knife and slashed the group’s vehicle’s tires before leaving the area sometime Friday morning. Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux said the suspect also brandished a pistol before leaving.
Boudreaux said law enforcement received reports of an armed robbery at a gas station in the Three Rivers area. The suspect fired some shots and fled the scene in a white Toyota Prius at around 10:30 a.m.
A CalFire official then attempted to make a traffic stop of the suspect’s vehicle, officers say. The suspect stopped the vehicle, fired shots at the officer, and then sped off again.
A pursuit involving California Highway Patrol officers, Tulare County Sheriff’s deputies, Woodlake police officers, and CalFire officers continued down Highway 198 near the Exeter area. A deputy attempted to deploy spike strips but was fired at from the suspect’s moving vehicle, Boudreaux said.
Investigators say the suspect’s vehicle turned into a small orchard off Highway 198 in the Exeter area where it was promptly contained by officers. As the suspect got out of the vehicle and started running away, investigators say the suspect was able to sneak up behind a CHP officer and began to fight with the officer.
Deputies who were attempting to back up the CHP officer received gunfire from the suspect. During the gun battle, the CHP officer was hit in the shoulder. The 20-year veteran of the CHP sustained a non-life-threatening gunshot wound and she is expected to be okay.
The suspect was struck by gunfire during the battle and has been taken to an area hospital. The suspect’s condition was not immediately known and he was not identified.
Officials said two dogs were inside the vehicle with the suspect, and investigators say they are fine.
Sheriff Boudreaux said the investigation into the shooting will be conducted by the Visalia Police Department.