UC Merced

UC Merced reports first officer-involved shooting

UC Merced experienced the first officer-involved shooting in its brief history early Sunday after a university police officer was struck by a car near Lake Yosemite.

The officer, who was on foot, suffered mostly bumps and bruises, was released from the hospital and is recovering at home, according to UC Merced Police Chief Rita Spaur.

Police haven't released the officer's identity, and no suspects have been arrested. The Merced County Sheriff's Department is conducting the criminal investigation, while UC Merced police are handling the administrative investigation into the case. Both UC Merced police and sheriff's detectives said details about the incident are still preliminary.

The incident was reported about 3:45 a.m. on Lake Road, south of Lake Yosemite's front gate entrance, according to sheriff's Detective Corey Gibson. The officer heard loud music coming from the direction of several parked cars and went to investigate.

The officer got out of a patrol car and went to speak with the people at the scene, when suddenly one of the parked cars accelerated, drove directly at the officer, Gibson said.

The officer was struck by the car. Spaur said the officer fired one round at the car as the vehicle sped away. Deputies responded to the scene, and the officer was taken to the hospital.

Deputies responded to the scene, and the officer was taken to the hospital. The incident is the first officer- involved shooting reported at the small department, which employs seven officers and is in its sixth year of operation. Although the incident happened outside the UC Merced campus, the Lake Yosemite area north of the school is routinely patrolled by university police.

Spaur added it's the first time anyone has ever tried to run over one of her officers, saying she was "extremely relieved" after hearing the officer had only minor injuries. "All officers put their lives on the line, every time they put that uniform on," Spaur said.

Few details are available about the suspects. Gibson said at least two people were inside the car, described as a dark, possibly black four-door sedan.

Detectives ask anyone with information to call the Merced County Sheriff's Department's Major Crime Division, at (209) 385-7472. Tips are kept confidential and callers can remain anonymous.

Managing Editor Victor A. Patton can be reached at (209) 385-2431 or vpatton@mercedsun-star.com.