California

Hostage-holding kidnapping suspect fatally shot by Stanislaus deputies in Modesto

What resident saw at officer-involved shooting scene

Jessica Foster, a resident of Vine Street at South Madison Street, just west of downtown Modesto, came outside after a Stanislaus County sheriff's deputy or deputies shot a man who reportedly was holding a hostage Wednesday night, July 17, 2019.
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Jessica Foster, a resident of Vine Street at South Madison Street, just west of downtown Modesto, came outside after a Stanislaus County sheriff's deputy or deputies shot a man who reportedly was holding a hostage Wednesday night, July 17, 2019.

A kidnapping suspect who held his victim hostage with an apparent firearm after being confronted by sheriff’s deputies was fatally shot Wednesday night in Modesto, the Police Department reported.

The shooting occurred shortly after 10 p.m. in the area of Vine and Madison streets, according to a news release. Stanislaus County deputies were investigating a reported kidnapping and false imprisonment when they located the suspect, Stephen Murray, 52, of Modesto.

Deputies had a warrant for Murray’s arrest and saw that the victim was walking with him in that part of west Modesto, the release said. When they tried to arrest him, he placed the woman between himself and the deputies while armed with a weapon that turned out to be a replica, police said. At least one deputy shot Murray, who died at the scene.

The woman, who was known to Murray, was not injured in the shooting and is cooperating in the investigation, police spokesman Sgt. Kalani Souza said Thursday afternoon.

Because the shooting occurred within Modesto, the Police Department’s Violent Crimes Unit will be lead on the shooting investigation.

Jessica Foster, a resident of Vine Street at South Madison, heard gunshots that she thought were firecrackers. She went outside when her brother told her law enforcement was everywhere around the intersection. She learned that a neighboring house was hit at least once by gunfire, so she was relieved to hear no one was home at the time, Foster said.

She said Murray’s name is unfamiliar and he apparently is not a neighbor.

Three investigations are under way, which is the protocol for officer-involved shootings. One is by the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office, another by the MPD’s Violent Crimes Unit, and the third by the sheriff’s Internal Affairs Division.

Anyone with information on this case is encouraged to call Modesto Police Detective Sean Martin at 209-572-9500.

The shooting comes on the heels of a man’s death Wednesday morning following a Tuesday evening struggle with deputies in south Modesto.

Wednesday’s shooting also was the second during a hostage situation for the Sheriff’s Department in about six weeks. On June 6, a deputy shot a man who was suspected of taking a boy hostage for hours in south Modesto.

And it’s the third fatal officer-involved shooting this year by sheriff’s deputies. In addition to the June 6 incident, a 19-year-old was shot by two deputies March 21 near Orangeburg Avenue and Carver Road during a carjacking and robbery investigation.

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