Fresno police are investigating a shooting Thursday in which gang officers shot at but missed a man they had stopped — and apparently missed drivers passing by on a busy central Fresno street.
Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said that just before 3 p.m. officers wearing plain clothes with riot vests and driving an unmarked police car pulled into the Taco Bell on Olive Avenue near Highway 99. The two officers approached three men standing in the parking lot.
Two of the men walked away when they saw the officers, but the third man stayed. Dyer said officers believed that this man, an African-American in his early 20s, was a gang member based on his clothes. According to Dyer, the man — who was not immediately identified — was on probation and had a criminal record in Madera.
One officer was patting the man down on a search when the officer felt something metallic and hard. The man then bolted and as he ran toward a second officer, the first officer shouted “he has a gun.” That’s when the second officer opened fire, squeezing off three rounds that missed the man.
One shot hit the officers’ unmarked MAGEC gang task force patrol car, but Dyer said investigators were still trying to determine where the other two rounds landed. They were fired towards a California Highway Patrol office across the street on Olive Avenue.
After the shots were fired, the man turned west toward the Olive Avenue offramp at northbound Highway 99. He passed behind a Chevron gas station and tossed an object that police later found was a machete. A California Highway Patrol officer caught the man and arrested him.
The officer who fired the shots was placed on leave for firing her weapon, which Lt. Joe Gomez said is a standard procedure.
The northbound Olive Avenue offramp from Highway 99 was closed for several hours, and freeway traffic was backed up to downtown Fresno.