Off-duty officer shoots suspected backyard 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 man who was shot, a 25-year-old from Modesto, was taken to a 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. near the officer's home. Police would not release the exact location to ensure the officer's safety.

Fuzie said the incident began when the resident discovered the suspected prowler in his home's back yard near his teenage daughter's window. He refused to give the daughter's age or say if she is an adult because it might indicate where she attends school and put her at risk.

Police did not release the names of the father and daughter for the same reason.

"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 man. Another fam- ily member called the off-duty police officer, who lives nearby.

The officer arrived at the home and went into the back yard, where the father was fighting with another man. At some point, the officer fired his department-issued gun, wounding the suspected prowler, Fuzie said.

He said neither the father nor his daughter knew the man.

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

Fuzie refused to say whether the suspected prowler was armed because investigators were still interviewing witnesses. He did say there were no apparent signs of a break-in or forced entry at the home.

Arrest expected

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

The officer who wounded the man 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 officer in eight 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 officers usually don't have with them radios or less-than-lethal devices or equipment such as a Taser or a baton to use during a confrontation with a suspect.

"Anytime 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 ask anyone with information about this incident to call the Modesto police Investigations Division at 572-9551.

Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at or 578-2394.