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Police fatally shoot man in Atwater after chase

A man was fatally shot by a police officer near Green Sands Avenue and Augusta Lane in Atwater on Monday, authorities said.
A man was fatally shot by a police officer near Green Sands Avenue and Augusta Lane in Atwater on Monday, authorities said. rparsons@mercedsunstar.com

Police shot and killed a suspect in a domestic-violence-related kidnapping Monday afternoon following a lengthy car chase through the city and parts of the county.

The suspect, whom police did not identify Monday, was holding a woman hostage in his vehicle and used a knife to cut himself multiple times during the chase, Lt. Samuel Joseph said.

“It was a very chaotic scene. It started with one of the longest vehicle pursuits we’ve had in a very long time. He tried to ram several (police) vehicles off the road during the pursuit, which ended, unfortunately, with the suspect deceased because he lunged at the police officers while holding a knife,” Joseph said.

An officer shot the suspect, identified only as a Latino man, at Green Sands Avenue and Augusta Lane.

Police said a witness called police around noon to report a man apparently holding a woman against her will in a vehicle. The witness provided authorities with a license plate number, and officers found the black Ford sedan heading south on First Street around 2 p.m.

Officers chased the suspect for several minutes. They repeatedly tried to deploy spike strips to stop the car, Joseph said, but the man kept going. The chase reached speeds of up to 70 mph down Buhach Road, police said.

The woman, who was still in the car with the suspect, later told police that as the man drove, he slashed at his body with a knife several times, cutting himself. The woman, whose name was not released Monday, was not injured, police said.

The suspect turned down Green Sands Avenue, where he jumped out of the car and tried to scale a nearby fence. When he failed, he turned back toward the nearby Villa Italia apartment complex.

“He was all covered in blood when he got out. He had no shirt on and was already bleeding,” said Haden McRae, a witness who was nearby. “The cops Tased him, but he just pulled them off his (skin) and kept going.”

Police and witnesses said officers ordered the suspect to drop to the ground, but he did not comply.

One officer opened fire; witnesses said they heard four or five shots. The man was declared dead at the scene; nobody else was hurt, authorities said.

The scene was chaotic; a crowd gathered with many people yelling and swearing at the officers, complaining that they fired near an apartment complex where families with children live.

“I grabbed my little brother, and we crawled on the ground back inside,” said Nathaniel Gilmore, who lives nearby. “My little brother saw it happen.”

The investigation continued; the officer involved, whose name was not released, was placed on administrative leave, in line with department policy.

Joseph said three investigations would be conducted by Atwater police: a criminal probe into the kidnapping report and subsequent chase, an officer-involved shooting investigation and an internal affairs inquiry.

“The officer-involved (case) will be turned over the district attorney for review, which is standard procedure,” Joseph said.

Rob Parsons: 209-385-2482

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