Revolver in hand, the gunman walked up to the pickup's window in near-standstill traffic and fired. The bullets killed a husband and wounded his wife.
The senseless attack Thursday evening that killed Nhia Lee, 65, of Fresno was part of a terrifying shooting and carjacking spree in northwest Fresno that left two people dead and two others injured, Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said Friday.
A flurry of 911 calls hinted at the chaos at Shaw and Polk avenues: 23 were made within a matter of minutes as the shooter -- gang member Joshua Lewis, 21, of Fresno -- fired into traffic around 5:45 p.m., Dyer said.
Amid the shooting, several people stuck in traffic left their cars -- some running -- to escape the violence.
But in the midst of unfolding tragedy, one man stepped forward.
An off-duty sergeant with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation pulled his car over, grabbed his gun and started walking toward the shooter.
His wife tried to stop him. It didn't work.
"He tells his wife, 'Babe, I've got to go -- duty,' " said Fresno Police detective John Viveros.
After Lewis shot three people, the sergeant, who has not been identified, saw him take aim at a 19-year-old and his 5-year-old brother fleeing the SUV that Lewis had just shot.
The sergeant shot Lewis in the back, lower neck and upper chest. An armed male nurse also stopped to help but did not fire his gun, Dyer said at a news conference Friday afternoon.
A witness who watched the scene from a car stuck in the traffic saw the pair approach Lewis.
The nurse began walking like a "robot" with his gun pointed at Lewis' back, said the witness, who didn't want to be identified. About five seconds later, the sergeant, a former Marine, began to cautiously approach Lewis also from behind, and then started firing.
"It was scary," the witness said. "Thank God for those two guys ... He would have killed more people. I saw him shoot into the truck and kill that old man (Lee). I saw him waving his gun around in the middle of the street.
"People were leaving their cars and walking the opposite direction. People were scared. If it wasn't for the (sergeant), he might have gone after more cars. It was horrible."
After being shot, a bloody Lewis then took the 19-year-old's SUV and drove west about six miles, nearly to Biola, before crashing into a ditch near Shaw and Jameson avenues around 6 p.m., Dyer said. Lewis tried to walk away but died of his wounds.
The CDCR sergeant is a "hero," Dyer said, adding there is "no doubt" he prevented more people from being killed.
During the incident, Lewis shot a man in the stomach who was driving a minivan, critically injuring him, shot Lee's wife in the arm, and fired at a woman driving a Ford Focus as she pulled out of a tire shop. The name of the sergeant and the surviving victims are not being released for their safety, Dyer said, because Lewis is a gang member.
However, a family member reported the identity of the minivan driver as Henry Spurling.
"It is a tragic incident that occurred in our city," Dyer said, but added it was "isolated."
Thursday's violence started with a two-vehicle crash about 5:20 p.m. at Marks and Emerson avenues. Lewis, the driver of a crashed van, left two wounded cousins in the van and then carjacked a woman. He made her drive to a residence that police believe Lewis was staying in near Shaw and Polk. After he went inside, she drove away unharmed. Lewis then walked up to Shaw and started shooting.
Police don't yet know why Lewis started shooting indiscriminately, or why he carjacked two vehicles. The results of toxicology tests -- to see if he was under the influence of drugs or alcohol -- should be back within two months.
According to court records, Lewis was arrested two years ago for street terrorism and carrying a loaded firearm in public. In June 2012, he was given a three-year suspended sentence and got three years probation in exchange for his no-contest plea.
Lewis was ordered to jail Aug. 27, 2012, with a release date 39 days later. He served six days in Fresno County Jail before he was released.
Fresno County Superior Court Judge John Gallagher ordered Lewis to enroll in vocational education, get his General Educational Development diploma, seek gainful employment, not to possess alcohol or weapons, and to stay away from gang members.
He had two co-defendants in the case. One served four days in jail and the other is still wanted on a warrant.
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is also investigating Thursday's shooting because it involved one of their employees, spokeswoman Terry Thornton said.