A female robbery suspect was shot and killed by two Merced police officers early Saturday morning after a foot chase through a residential area, the Merced Police Department reported.
The woman, whose identity was not released, may have fired at least one round at police during the foot chase, said Capt. Tom Trindad. Police said she was a suspect in at least two robberies between Friday night and Saturday morning. A 24-year-old man was arrested in connection with the robberies.
The woman was shot in an alley in the 1900 block of V Street, just outside a duplex shared by an extended family with five young children. One round struck the home about 2 feet below the window of a bedroom where Teresa Hernandez slept, she said in Spanish, with daughter Sonia Hernandez, 15, interpreting.
Sonia Hernandez said she also heard gunfire just outside her own bedroom window. “My mom was really scared. She thought everyone could die because of the shots,” the teenager said.
At 1:23 a.m. Saturday, an officer in the downtown area of Merced was flagged down by a man who said he had just been robbed by a white female with blond hair and a black male adult who were traveling in a silver Ford Mustang, police said. Those descriptions matched ones given by witnesses to an armed robbery near a store reported at 7:55 p.m. Friday on Martin Luther King Jr. Way. Police believe the woman who died had served as the getaway driver in the robbery.
Officers spotted a vehicle matching the getaway car’s description a short time later in the downtown area, police said.
Police said the vehicle initially stopped, but then sped away. After a brief chase, the Mustang struck a curb in the 1900 block of V Street and stopped, police said.
Two people ran from the car, including a woman, while two passengers remained in the vehicle, police said. The passengers were questioned and released.
A foot chase ensued. Hernandez said the woman scaled a wooden fence in the family’s backyard, which is just north of the crash scene. She knocked over a portion of the wooden fence, then ran west through the backyard, climbed a second fence and came down in the alley, witnesses said. She ran west across the 1900 block of V street to the side of an empty home, where she was confronted by police. She was shot moments later, residents said.
“During the foot chase, it is believed that the female fired a round from a gun,” police said in a statement.
The woman pointed a firearm at an officer who was seated in his patrol vehicle, police said, and the officer opened fire. Another officer also fired his weapon, police said.
It was unclear how many shots were fired or how many times the woman was struck.
Several area residents said they initially heard two gunshots and then heard what sounded like six to eight more shots once the woman was across the street from the Hernandezes’ home.
The woman was taken to a Modesto hospital, where she was pronounced dead. Nathen D. Jones was booked at the Merced County jail on suspicion of robbery and a parole violation.
The two officers who fired their weapons have been placed on paid administrative leave pending further investigations, which is standard procedure in all officer-involved shootings, Trindad said. The names of the officers were withheld, which is also standard procedure.
Pat Lunney, chief of investigations for the Merced County District Attorney’s Office, said police will conduct an internal administrative review to determine whether procedures and protocols were followed. The department will also conduct a standard criminal investigation to determine if any laws were violated. That inquiry will include investigations into the robberies that occurred Friday night and Saturday morning, authorities said.
Police are asking anyone with information regarding this incident to contact Detective Joe Deliman at (209) 385-6992.
This story has been corrected from an earlier version.