FRESNO — A gunman killed a detective and wounded two other officers Thursday, prompting a seven-hour standoff that ended when authorities found the suspect dead inside a mobile home.
About 200 armor-clad officers from nearly a dozen San Joaquin Valley police agencies flooded into the tiny foothills community of Minkler, southeast of Fresno. Authorities set up roadblocks on Highway 180, cleared local airspace, locked down a nearby school and evacuated residents.
One of the wounded men was Reedley police officer Javier Bejar, about 28, who has been with his department since 2008. Bejar was on "nonrecoverable life support," said Reedley City Manager Rocky Rogers.
Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims did not name the two victims from her department, including the veteran detective who died. She said the injured deputy was in stable condition and is expected to recover.
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The slain detective was reported to have been shot in the side. Bejar suffered a head wound. The other deputy had a shoulder wound. Both injured men were at Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno.
The suspect is Ricky Liles, 51, of Minkler, according to property records, neighbors and one local official. Sheriff's officials would not confirm his identity.
The suspect's body was discovered about 5 p.m. inside the mobile home where the incident took place. A woman, believed to be Liles' wife, had emerged from the home about one hour earlier and was being questioned by the Fresno Police Department, which is investigating the incident at the sheriff's request.
Mims said she did not know if the man shot himself or died during the exchange of gunfire with officers.
Warrant served for Cal Fire
Mims said the incident began about 9:40 a.m. when her detectives joined officials from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection to serve a search warrant.
Mary Novack, manager of Minkler Grocery, across from the scene, said she saw four cars with Cal Fire officers and sheriff's deputies roll up to the home. Officers knocked at the door, but got no answer, Novack said. Over a loudspeaker, they ordered the occupants to come out, but no one did. They then broke down the door.
Novack said she heard gunshots. The officers then backed away and "everyone in the world showed up" as law enforcement officers from several area agencies flooded the scene, Novack said. She said she saw an officer on the ground who later was put into an ambulance.
Another witness, Bret McArron of Selma, said he heard officers fire 150 to 200 rounds into the home before he was ordered out of the area.
Mims said shots were fired from inside the home as deputies tried to serve the warrant, which was connected to investigations into a recent series of reported arsons and shooting incidents.
Chuck Minkler, whose family founded the tiny community in 1892, said he rented the home to a man named Rickey Ray Liles. He said Liles lived there with his wife, Diane, and several small dogs.
Minkler said there have been eight or nine fires on his 20-acre property over the past six months. They damaged a two-story storage structure and a small home.
There also have been reports of shots fired into the Minkler store and into his sister's home earlier this week, Minkler said.
"The fires got more frequent over the past six months and we were growing more concerned about my sister," he said.
The sister, Sally Minkler, was grazed in the back after shots were fired at her home, which neighbors said is adjacent to the home where Liles resides.
Chuck Minkler said he did not know whether Liles was responsible for any of the incidents.
Liles and his wife had worked for a local security company, he said. State records show that a firearms permit for a man with Liles' name was canceled in August, but that the same person had a valid guard license.
Another neighbor said the suspect "has really been having it out" with the Minkler family. The Minklers had not been telling anyone about the situation because they knew the warrant was coming, the neighbor said.