A 27-year-old man who was shot by Merced police Monday after they say he crashed into a bus and tried to run over two officers has been identified as Michael Chase Stafford.
Stafford, a Stanislaus County resident, is a parolee who recently served time in prison for auto theft, identity theft and possession of a controlled substance, according to Lt. Bimley West.
The suspect has previously been arrested for evading law enforcement, as well as narcotics and fraud violations dating back to 2003.
Merced police had issued an arrest warrant against Stafford in March for allegedly attempting to cash a stolen check.
West said the suspect admitted knowing he was being followed by police detectives when he crashed into the UC Merced commuter bus on West North Bear Creek Drive.
"He knew that he was wanted as an outstanding parolee," West said. "He apparently didn't want to go back to prison."
Police also found methamphetamine in the stolen Saturn Ion that Stafford was driving, but it's unknown whether the suspect was under the influence during the pursuit.
Stafford, who was shot at least twice, was expected to be released from the hospital Tuesday and booked at the Merced County Jail on suspicion of aggravated assault of law enforcement officers, reckless driving and possession of stolen property.
The incident was reported at 1:49 p.m. Monday after the officers began following the Saturn in the area of West North Bear Creek Drive and Driftwood Drive. A check of its license plate revealed it was taken during a Jan. 19 carjacking in Stanislaus County, where he is accused of beating up his girlfriend and stealing her car, West said.
Officers tried to pull over the car, but Stafford sped away, driving west on West North Bear Creek Drive. A UC Merced CatTracks bus was traveling east on the road when it was hit head-on by Stafford.
When the officers exited their vehicle, Stafford put the Saturn in reverse and tried to run them down, West said. The officers opened fire, striking Stafford.
"We're happy none of our officers were injured," West said. "We're also pleased that none of the civilians in the area were injured."
City Editor Victor A. Patton can be reached at (209) 385-2431 or firstname.lastname@example.org.