Off-duty Fresno police officer shot at and fires back, wounding 2

The Fresno BeeDecember 2, 2013 

A Fresno police photo shows the five bullet holes where an officer's personal car was hit by gunfire during a shootout with a gang member Monday night, Dec. 2, 2013.

PHOTO PROVIDED BY FRESNO POLICE DEPARTMENT

Two gang members were wounded Monday night when one of them opened fire on an off-duty officer in southeast Fresno, and the officer fired back, police said.

The officer was in his personal car on his way to work in southeast Fresno about 8:30 p.m. when he pulled up to a stop light at Cedar and Butler avenues.

Four gang members, in a car in an adjacent lane a few vehicles behind the officer, yelled at him, demanding to know what gang he was in. One of the occupants of the car then fired six shots at the officer, striking the passenger side of the officer's personal car, Police Chief Jerry Dyer said.

The officer, who was in civilian clothes but had his service weapon with him, returned fire. The officer also got the car's license, and drove to the southeast Fresno police station a block away and notified fellow officers.

Two of the gang members came to Community Regional Medical Center with gunshot wounds, Dyer said. They were reported in stable condition. A third gang member was stopped a short distance from where the shooting occurred. Police were still looking for a fourth suspect.

Dyer said Monday night that three people were wounded. Police on Tuesday morning corrected that number to two.

The officer, a 10-year veteran of the department, was unhurt. He is now on paid administrative leave, as is typical in officer-involved shootings.

"That officer did an incredible job," Dyer said. "We're very, very fortunate we do not have a dead police officer."

Dyer said the officer, who was not identified, was on his way to work for a midnight shift when the gang members began looking at him, and then began shooting. There was another vehicle in front of the officer that prevented him from driving away when the shooting began.

The chief said the gang members apparently mistook the officer for a gang member, adding that such mistaken identities involving officers is "very, very rare."

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6679 or bvaccari@fresnobee.com

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