Sacto 9-1-1
April 20, 2012
Possible West Sacramento shooting suspect killed in firefight

JV_042012_STOLEN_TRUCK 040.JPG

Interstate 80 from West Sacramento to Davis is now open in both directions after 6 hours of closure after a suspected gunman crashed his first carjacked pickup truck in West Sacramento.

The hunt for the suspect, who also stole a tractor and ditched a second hijacked vehicle, involved swarms of officers and continues across a wide area of Sacramento.

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Here is the story as it is unfolding:

8:26 p.m.

A man who exchanged gunfire with deputies and who may be the West Sacramento shooting suspect is dead, said Sheriff's spokesman Deputy Jason Ramos.

Firefighters said in scanner traffic that flareups in the apartment fire are continuing, but they are worried about damaging the crime scene in their efforts to extinguish it.

8:07 p.m.

Authorities are making their way into an apartment in the 1900 block of Ethan Way after Sacramento Sheriff's deputies fired on a possible suspect in today's West Sacramento shootings and carjackings.

"It's certainly very possible," it's him, said Sheriff's spokesman Deputy Jason Ramos. "We're waiting to hear if he's dead."

The suspect was outside the apartment when deputies fired on him, Ramos said. He did not know if the man had fired on deputies.

Investigators began focusing on the apartment about 6 p.m., Ramos said.

"It's a place that our investigation brought us to. I don't want to say how obviously. This place came on our radar."

A fire started inside the target apartment at some point but was under control, he said. "How that was started, we don't know yet," Ramos said.

7:46 p.m.

Police believe they may have the man wanted in connection with the West Sacramento shooting and carjackings barricaded in an Arden Arcade apartment.

That apartment on the 1900 block of Ethan Way apparently caught fire following a firefight between officers and the suspect. Sacramento sheriff's spokesman Jason Ramos said it is "certainly very possible" that the suspect is the man wanted for the day-long ordeal that started this morning in West Sacramento.

6:15 p.m.

West Sacramento police Sgt. Nathan Steele reports that police have discovered a third carjacking they believe is tied to the suspect.

Steele said he did not have much information, but that police believe the newly discovered carjacking was the first to occur, shortly after the suspect fired at employees arriving to work at a Harbor Boulevard machine shop and before he stole a pickup that he later crashed on Interstate 80's Yolo Causeway.

Meanwhile, Sacramento County sheriff's deputies are shrinking their perimeter around Lerwick Drive and might soon leave the scene altogether, without a suspect in custody.

5:14 p.m.

Sacramento County sheriff's deputies have released the man they had detained as they continue to search for the suspect associated with a stolen car found abandoned in northeastern Sacramento County.

Authorities have not identified the man who was detained.

Another Lerwick Road resident, Al Purdy, said he was handcuffed and placed in the back of a squad car after a Ford F150 pick up truck pulled up in front of his house around 11:30 a.m.

Purdy, who had taken the day off from his job at the U.S. Postal Service, said and a young man, who fit the suspect's description, got out of the truck and walked away. The truck matched the description of the pickup stolen in Yolo County.

"All of a sudden all there was police activity in front of the house. Guns were pointed at me. I was cuffed and put in the back of a squad car. They searched my house," Purdy said.

3:03 p.m.

A sheriff's helicopter is hovering over the area and through a speaker is urging the residents of 314 Lerwick Road to come out with their hands up.

2:26 p.m.

Sacramento County Sheriff's spokesman Jason Ramos said deputies have detained a white male in the area near Lerwick Road and Morse Avenue where the second carjacked vehicle was found.

Detectives believe the man is responsible for stealing the car, but Ramos said they are not sure the incident is connected with the carjacking in West Sacramento.

12:29 p.m.

Interstate 80 from West Sacramento to Davis is now open in both directions after 6 hours of closure.

The freeway was closed about 6:20 a.m. when the suspect crashed his initial carjacked pickup truck in West Sacramento.

A tow truck has carried away the pickup and officials said that allows for the opening of the interstate.

11:50 a.m.

The brown Ford F150 has apparently been found miles away from where it was carjacked, police said.

Authorities apparently have found the pick-up at Lerwick Road and Morse Avenue along the Capitol City Freeway in Arden Arcade.

11:40 a.m.

Police now say that an empty rifle case was found at the West Sacramento machine shop where the entire incident began this morning when the suspect shot at employees.

It is not known by police if the suspect has a rifle from the shop. During the first carjacking he was armed with a handgun.

11:25 a.m.

The two pickups were not the only vehicles stolen by the carjack suspect. Authorities now say that after he crashed the first pickup on the causeway, he found a farm tractor not far away.

The suspect then hot wired the tractor and drove it to County Road 127 and River Road. There, he approached a bird watcher and hit him over the head. The carjacker then drove off in the bird watcher's pickup.

West Sacramento police believe that he is no longer in the area of County Road 127 and River Road.

11 a.m.

Sacramento International Airport officials report a number of passengers have missed flights this morning due to traffic back-ups on I-5. Spokeswoman: If you're coming to the airport this morning, give yourself an extra half-hour at least, possibly longer. Some drivers are taking backroute on Bayou Road.

10:50 a.m.

From CHP Officer Adrian Quintero:

On the closed section to the freeway, SWAT members are approaching the stopped vehicles from each direction to go through vehicles in order to be sure no suspects are inside.

Even while authorities responded to a second car jacking several miles away, officials are going through vehicles to make sure nobody is hiding in vehicles that are stopped on the elevated highway over the bypass.

Once it is clear that no suspects are inside the vehicles, the cars and trucks will then be able to move off the freeway.

"It's going to be tedious, they are going to have to go row-by-row, car lanes by car lanes and work their up," said Quintero.

The CHP is asking people stuck on the causeway keep their doors locked and be patient.

10:25 a.m.

Authorities say that another pickup has been carjacked by the gunfight suspect not far from the location where the suspect was last seen on the causeway.

Police believe the carjacker is the same man involved in the earlier shootout with police. The location of the most recent carjacking at 10:10 a.m. is about 3 miles from the scene of the gunfire earlier this morning.

The wanted suspect took a brown 2008 Ford 150 pickup with no license plates from a victim near County Road 127 and River Road.

The victim was hit over the head but is okay, police said. The suspect in the latest carjacking is also a white male in his 20s.

10:09 a.m.

The Yolo Causeway remains completely closed at 10 a.m. CHP and Caltrans officials say street traffic is heavy on West Sacramento from cars diverted off freeway. Expect congestion on Davis area surface streets. Signboards on I-80 in Sacramento are telling drivers to use I-5 and State Route 113. Those freeways are experiencing heavy traffic.
CHP says search for suspect still underway, and no reopening time has been set for freeways.

10:05 a.m.

Caltrans officials are advising drivers in Sacramento and West Sacramento not to attempt to enter I-80 westbound. Sacramento drivers are being asked to take I-5 north to Highway 113. Eastbound traffic on I-80 is being diverted onto Highway 113 in west Davis.The freeway closures in the causeway area continue, with no prognosis for reopening.

9:10 a.m.

From CHP Officer Rich Wetzel:

"Nothing has changed. Still out there looking. They can't turn cars around because the big rigs can't move. People are stuck on the causeway."

Wetzel recommends that if people need to get to the Bay area from Sacramento, take Interstate 5 north to Highway 113 and cut over to I-80 or south I-5 to Highway 205 through Tracy and to Highway 580.

8:50 a.m.

From Sgt. Steele, West Sacramento police:

Current description of suspect is a white man in his 20s, short hair, wearing a long trench coat.

8:30 a.m.

From Sgt. Steele from West Sacramento police Department:

"We are working both scenes. Harbor Boulevard is still closed and the highway is an active scene. We are calling in more resources, specialized units."

Steele said that the initial call to his department was regarding shots fired. He said that employees of the auto repair business came to work about 6 a.m., entered the building and were fired upon.

Steele said he could not confirm reports that the gunman was a burglar surprised by arriving employees.

Police set up a perimeter, which was quickly followed by the report of a nearby car-jacking.

Offices pursued the suspect and were fired upon numerous times, Steele said.

7:40 a.m.

CHP Officer Wetzel said that officers are searching the marsh in the Yolo Bypass underneath the causeway for the suspect.

The I-80 causeway is shut down westbound at Enterprise Avenue and eastbound in Davis, Wetzel said. The suspect crashed his car approaching the causeway in West Sacramento.

7:17 a.m.

Interstate 80 on the Yolo Causeway is closed down in both directions as officers look for a West Sacramento shooting suspect.

The gunman crashed a stolen getaway car on the causeway after firing shots in West Sacramento about 6:30 a.m.

West Sacramento police spokesman Sgt. Nathan Steele said that officers responded to the report of shots being fired at B&R Head & Block Repair, 407 Harbor Blvd. When they arrived, a carjacking occurred around the corner.

Officers spotted the stolen car and pursued the vehicle. A gunman in the car fired at officers as he fled.

Shortly after the gunfire, the stolen car crashed in the vicinity of the causeway.

A helicopter crew, police dogs and officers on foot are looking for the suspect.

California Highway Patrol Officer Rich Wetzel said that the suspect is described as a white man in his mid-to-late-20s, balding and wearing a light shirt and dark pants.

Wetzel said motorists from Davis should take Highway 113 to Woodland and take Interstate 5 to Sacramento instead of I-80.

Bee reporters contributing to this report: Bill Lindelof, Kim Minugh, Timothy Sandoval, Hudson Sangree, Tony Bizjak and Cathy Locke.

PHOTO: The stolen truck used in the escape of a suspect in a burglary in West Sacramento this morning was found on Lerwick Street near Morse in Sacramento, California. Jose Luis Villegas/Sacramento Bee

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