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He wanted ‘to scare’ Merced sheriff’s deputies, so he started shooting, reports say

Video: Suspect accused of shooting Merced deputy captured

Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke said law enforcement officials captured suspect Guadalupe Lopez-Herrera following a lengthy pursuit that started in San Luis Obispo County. Lopez-Herrera is accused of shooting a Merced County Sheriff's Deputy.
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Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke said law enforcement officials captured suspect Guadalupe Lopez-Herrera following a lengthy pursuit that started in San Luis Obispo County. Lopez-Herrera is accused of shooting a Merced County Sheriff's Deputy.

The Merced County man who allegedly wounded a sheriff’s sergeant told investigators opened fire because he was constantly targeted by police and he was “tired of not being taken seriously” when he reported crimes, according to documents obtained by the Sun-Star.

Guadalupe Lopez-Herrera, 51, was identified as an undocumented immigrant. But records indicate he is a longtime Merced County resident.

Lopez-Herrera was charged with 19 felony and misdemeanor counts in connection with the officer-involved shooting Wednesday and domestic violence offenses. He was in court Tuesday but didn’t enter a plea.

Investigation reports reveal new details about the events leading up to the shooting.

Lopez-Herrera was tracked by the Merced County Sheriff’s Office STAR Team to a home near the intersection of Eucalyptus Road and Highway 33 near Dos Palos, according to investigation reports. He was wanted for a domestic violence incident reported on Sept. 1.

The STAR Team planned a tactical arrest by taking positions around the home due to information that Lopez-Herrera had firearms, reports state.

STAR Team Sgt. Clint Landrum and Deputy Julio Ibarra planned to access the property from a neighboring property through an irrigation ditch and a line of oleander bushes that separated the properties, according to reports.

As they walked down the ditch, Lopez-Herrera fired several shots through a fence toward the officers. Landrum was hit once in his safety vest on the chest area and once in the leg, just above his knee.

After the shooting, Lopez-Herrera fled in his truck, which he ditched after carjacking another pickup truck, authorities said.

The shooting led to a regional manhunt for Lopez-Herrera. At one point, Lopez-Herrera was stopped at gunpoint and told to drop a handgun he was carrying, the reports state. He unloaded a magazine and threw the gun out the car window before driving off again. But he was eventually stopped and taken into custody in Kettleman City.

Lopez-Herrera told investigators the domestic issues with his wife led to her taking his children, according to the reports. He said he feared for his children because he thought they were living in a home full of gang members.

Lopez-Herrera said he reported his fear to police and a social worker, but felt the officials he spoke with weren’t taking him seriously. He told an officer that if police weren’t going to do anything, “he would take action into his own hands.”

Lopez-Herrera said he wanted to “scare” the two deputies by shooting at the ground near them, and that he didn’t shoot to kill.

He is due back in court Sept. 18.

Vikaas Shanker is an award-winning reporter covering education, crime and courts for the Merced Sun-Star and Los Banos Enterprise. After growing up in Naperville, Illinois and graduating from the University of Kansas, he reported in several Chicago suburbs before moving to Merced County in 2016.
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