Merced police officers shoot suspect after he crashes into UC Merced bus

vpatton@mercedsun-star.comApril 23, 2012 

BEA AHBECK/bahbeck@mercedsunstar.com Officers investigate the scene after police shot a man who allegedly aimed his vehicle at them on West North Bear Creek Drive Monday afternoon.

BEA AHBECK

A man driving a stolen car was wounded Monday afternoon by Merced police, after he crashed into a bus and tried to run over two officers, the police department reported.

Police haven't released the name of the suspect, who has only been identified as a man in his late 20s or early 30s. The two officers involved in the shooting weren't hurt, according to Lt. Bimley West, a police spokesman.

The incident was reported at 1:49 p.m. after the officers began following the suspect vehicle, a silver 2007 Saturn Ion, in the area of West North Bear Creek Drive and Driftwood Drive. A check of the Saturn’s license plate revealed it was taken during a Jan. 19 carjacking in Stanislaus County, West said.

Officers tried to pull over the car, but the suspect sped away, driving westbound on West North Bear Creek Drive. A UC Merced CatTracks bus was traveling eastbound on roadway when it was hit head-on by the suspect fleeing in the Saturn.

When the officers exited their vehicle, the suspect put the Saturn in reverse and tried to run down the pair, West said. The officers opened fire, striking the suspect.

The suspect was treated by Riggs paramedics and flown to a nearby hospital, where he was in stable condition Monday night, police said. Three students riding the bus weren't hurt. The bus driver complained of pain, but did not suffer major injuries, West said.

Police closed West North Bear Creek Drive from R Street to Pira Drive during the investigation.

Kim Mendez, 20, of San Diego, one of three UC Merced students riding the bus, said she was writing in a book when she the heard the crash and gunshots. “Police came right away to ask if we were all right,” she said.

Maria Alvarez, 47, who lives in a house on West North Bear Creek, was inside her home watching television when she heard a car zoom past, followed by sound of five gunshots. “It was really loud, you could hear them so clearly,” she said.

John Angelino, 55, heard sirens, looked outside and saw the suspect vehicle go past his home at about 60 mph. He then heard five gunshots and saw officers with their guns drawn.

Angelino, who moved to Merced from the San Jose area four years ago, said he was hoping this area would be more peaceful. "This violence has got to stop. People have to learn to get along with each other," he said.

Police haven't released the names of the officers involved in the shooting. They have been placed on administrative leave, as part of standard department procedure, West said.

There have been two other officer-involved shootings in the San Joaquin Valley in the last week, one in Turlock and one in Keyes. In each case, the person died.

The Turlock shooting occurred just before noon in the 2000 block of Nikki Ann Way, where it meets North Tully Road. Police said a Turlock officer shot and killed an armed suspect while responding to a report that several suspicious people appeared to be casing the neighborhood. Police said the male suspect “presented” a handgun at the officer before the officer shot him.

The second shooting occurred in Keyes about 5 p.m., just six miles from the first one. Stanislaus County sheriff’s officials said a deputy shot a man while responding to a family fight at a home in the 5700 block of 10th Street.

City Editor Victor A. Patton can be reached at (209) 385-2431 or vpatton@mercedsun-star.com.

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