Crime

Kidnapping suspect killed by Atwater police identified

Authorities respond to the scene where an Atwater police officer shot and killed a suspect involved in a domestic-violence-related kidnapping near Green Sands Avenue and Augusta Lane in Atwater on Monday.
Authorities respond to the scene where an Atwater police officer shot and killed a suspect involved in a domestic-violence-related kidnapping near Green Sands Avenue and Augusta Lane in Atwater on Monday. rparsons@mercedsunstar.com

Merced County authorities on Tuesday identified the man shot and killed a day earlier by an Atwater police officer.

David Oliva Sarabia, 27, of Atwater was killed in a confrontation with city police officers on Green Sands Avenue, the Merced County Coroner’s Office reported.

Sarabia was accused of holding a woman against her will in a vehicle Monday. Authorities said the woman, whose name has not been released, was held captive for several hours before Atwater police officers spotted the 2007 Ford sedan.

A lengthy car chase ensued, reaching speeds of more than 70 mph. During the chase, police said, Sarabia used a large knife to slash himself on his arms, wrists and neck while also trying to run pursuing officers off the roadway.

Lt. Samuel Joseph on Tuesday said there were few new details he could release, including the name of the Atwater officer who opened fire, citing a need to protect investigations.

Joseph did confirm that the woman at some point escaped briefly from Sarabia, but she was quickly recaptured and forced back into the vehicle.

Officers first received reports of a domestic-violence-related kidnapping around noon Monday. The victim had apparently told a witness at a store she was being held captive and asked the witness to call police, officers have said.

Police investigated and eventually located the vehicle around 2 p.m. The subsequent car chase ended on Green Sands Avenue after a tire went flat on Sarabia’s vehicle, police said.

According to police and area residents, Sarabia exited the vehicle already covered in blood and tried to scale a fence, but failed. He eventually charged at police officers while holding a knife and officers fired a stun gun, but witnesses said Sarabia pulled the Taser probes off his bare chest and charged again.

One police officer opened fire and witnesses reported hearing about four or five shots.

The officer has been placed on paid administrative leave, which is standard procedure in shootings by officers, authorities said.

Joseph said Atwater police are conducting a criminal investigation of the kidnapping report, an investigation of the officer’s actions in the shooting and an internal affairs review. Officers have not commented on any possible timetables for completing the inquiries or releasing the name of the police officer involved.

According to Merced County records, Sarabia’s criminal history included convictions for assault causing great bodily injury, domestic violence and numerous probation violations. He was last arrested in December on a probation violation.

Rob Parsons: 209-385-2482

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