Two men are in police custody after an off-duty officer was shot at early Friday morning, according to the Merced Police Department.
Police officer Vance Walker was driving to a local gym at approximately 4:30 a.m., when he saw a man crossing the road in front of him. Walker slowed down to allow the man to finish crossing, when he noticed a second man standing on the sidewalk. The second man asked Walker for a cigarette and Walker told him he didn't have any. He then noticed the first man standing near the right front corner of his vehicle. Walker feared he was going to be the subject of a robbery, so he drove away. That's when the suspect standing on the sidewalk shot at the vehicle, striking it three times. Walker was uninjured. As he drove away, he saw the two suspects run into an apartment complex on Park Avenue.
Officer Jesse Padget responded to the scene just after 5 a.m., and found one of the men in the 3000 block of Park Avenue. Officer Nick deJong and Sergeant Rod Dash found a second man, who was attempting to run away by jumping residential fences. Walker identified both men as the shooting suspects.
Police are still investigating the shooting. The two men are being interviewed by detectives. Police plan to book the men into Merced County Jail later today.
Investigators are unsure if there's a connection to a gang hit placed on a Merced officer earlier this year. On May 19, Merced Police announced that 13 suspects were arrested following a five-month investigation that started when police became aware of the threat against a local officer.
"We are not sure whether this was a robbery attempt, or possibly another attempt to murder one of our police officers," Merced Police Cmdr. Floyd Higdon said in a press release.
Anyone with information on this incident may call Detective C.R. Russell at 209-385-4707, or the Merced Police Department's automated tip line at (209) 385-4725.
Keep reading MercedSunStar.com for updates on this breaking news story.
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