A California Highway Patrol officer and gunman were dead and two other CHP officers were injured following a shootout near the 215 Freeway in the Riverside area Monday, officials said.
The suspect had grabbed a weapon and started firing after CHP pulled over his vehicle on an overpass at Eucalyptus Avenue, Riverside Police Officer Ryan Railsback said.
The surviving officers were seriously injured, but their wounds weren’t believed to be life-threatening, Railsback said.
Officials haven’t provided further detail about what led up to the fatal confrontation. But witness Charles Childress said the truck involved appeared to have been pulled over a while before gunfire erupted.
Childress said he was driving to Sycamore Canyon Park with his dog when he saw two CHP units had stopped a white pickup on the side of the overpass.
“Obviously they’d been there for a while,” Childress said. “The gentleman was outside the car. It looks like they had let him take his property out of his truck and were getting ready to tow it.”
After about 10 or 20 minutes at the park, Childress went back across the overpass and heard gunfire. Having spent 21 years in the Marine Corps, he said he “recognized them as shots automatically.”
Multiple gunshots and sirens can be heard in video shot by a freelance photographer at the scene.
The footage shows two officers on the ground near CHP vehicles.
The video opens as a Moreno Valley Police Department officer pulls a long gun from the back of his patrol car. He and other officers are positioned behind their vehicles with guns raised.
Another officer then appears to drag one wounded officer along the pavement, away from the gunfire. Three officers load the wounded man into a Moreno Valley patrol car that pulls up.
“We need a tourniquet,” one of the officers can be heard saying.
The police car speeds away.
Another uniformed officer appears to remain at the scene, on the ground, near a CHP motorcycle parked behind the white pickup truck.
Several other officers carried the officer into a Riverside police helicopter that landed on the overpass.
Meanwhile, more officers surrounded the pickup truck with guns drawn.
Another individual appeared to be down on the ground in front of the truck. An officer can be seen tending to the person, but it’s not clear if he is alive.
There was blood visible on the hood of the GMC pickup, and a large long gun could be seen on the sidewalk nearby.
Several bullet holes could be seen in the windshield of a CHP SUV, and the rear window of a cruiser was shot out.
A young child appeared to be getting medical aide near the scene as well, the video showed. The child was standing and did not appear seriously injured.
Jennifer Moctezuma said she was driving on Box Springs Boulevard with her 6-year-old twins in the back seat when a bullet went through the center of her windshield, passing her head and in between the two children.
“At first my mind went blank,” Moctezuma said. “Then I told my kids to get down and duck, but they couldn’t because they had their seatbelts on in the car seats.”
Childress, the veteran, said heard the children screaming and he sprang into action to lead the family to a safer spot.
“That’s what we train for in the Marine Corps,” Childress said. “I’m just glad the kids are OK.”
Moctezuma says Childress came up just as she was able to get the kids unrestrained.
“If it wasn’t for Chuck (Childress), I don’t know what we would have done,” Moctezuma said. “I’ve heard that cars got shot more after that.”
Moctezuma was unsure whether the bullet that pierced her vehicle was fired by CHP or the suspect.
Railsback told the Associated Press that a bystander in another car was hurt by shards of glass.
At 6 p.m. CHP said the freeway’s auxiliary lanes and off-ramps would be closed at Eucalyptus Avenue for an unknown duration.