Off-duty Modesto police officer shoots suspected prowler

An off-duty Modesto police officer shot a suspected prowler who was caught in a struggle with a resident in the back yard of a northeast Modesto home late Friday, a department spokesman said.

The 25-year-old Modesto man who was shot was taken by ambulance to a local hospital, where he was being treated Saturday afternoon, said Modesto police Lt. Chris Fuzie.

He said the man underwent surgery and is expected to survive his injuries. Police did not release his name. No other injuries were reported.

The incident occurred about 11:10 p.m., but police did not say where it happened. The shooting occurred near the officer’s home, so police will not release the location to ensure the officer’s safety.

Fuzie said the incident began when the resident was alerted to a suspected prowler in his home’s back yard near his teenage daughter’s window.

He would not divulge the girl's age, or whether she is an adult, because he said it might indicate where she attends school and risk her safety.

“The father had suspected someone had been prowling around the house in the past few weeks, but he didn’t know who it was,” Fuzie said.

The father went into his back yard to confront the unknown man. While this was happening, another family member called the off-duty police officer, who is a neighbor.

The officer arrived at the home and went into the back yard, where the father was in a physical fight with the suspected prowler. At some point, the officer fired his department-issued gun and shot the suspected prowler, Fuzie said.

He said neither the father nor his daughter knew the suspected prowler. Police did not release their names to ensure their safety.

Investigators are still trying to determine what happened after the officer arrived in the back yard, so police did not release further details.

Fuzie refused to say if the suspected prowler was armed because investigators were still interviewing witnesses and it could harm the investigation.

He did say there were no apparent signs of a break-in or forced entry at the home.

Police anticipated arresting the man once he is released from the hospital, but Fuzie said they had not determined what the criminal charges would be.

The police officer has been placed on paid administrative leave, which is standard procedure in officer-involved shootings. His name was not released.

The shooting is being investigated by Modesto police and the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office.

It’s the sixth reported officer-involved shooting by a Modesto police officer in the last seven months, and the second involving an off-duty officer.

“If you take a look at each one of those cases individually, they’re not driven by the officer,” Fuzie said. “The officer is responding to the behavior of the suspect.”

He said off-duty police officers usually don’t have with them radios or less-than-lethal devices or equipment like a Taser or a baton to use during a confrontation with a suspect.

“Any time you’re asked to do something off-duty, you’re not as well equipped as you are on-duty,” Fuzie said. “It’s harder to call for backup. You don’t have access to all the tools on your belt.”

Investigators asked anyone with information about this incident is asked to call the Modesto police Investigations Division at 572-9551.