A routine traffic stop in central Fresno led to a car chase around 5 p.m. Monday that ended with a police officer shooting and killing a suspect, the third officer-involved shooting in the last five days in Fresno.
The suspect died in surgery at Community Regional Medical Center, authorities said.
The shooting happened in the unincorporated Tarpey area at Clovis Avenue and Lansing Way, so the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office is handling the investigation.
Sheriff’s Sgt. Joe Smith said that a Fresno police officer feared for his life when he shot at least one round at the driver, who had ditched his car and was hiding in a shed behind a home when he came at the officer brandishing a 2-foot-long black PVC pipe. The gunshot hit the man in the chest.
The man who was shot was not identified, but police said he has a criminal record.
The officer, who was not injured, was put on paid administrative leave pending an investigation by the sheriff’s office. He was not identified.
Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said the chain of events began when officers tried to make a routine traffic stop at Belmont Avenue and Fifth Street, but the driver sped away, running several traffic lights before officers called off the chase.
The chase recommenced at McKinley Avenue and Clovis Avenue, near the east end of Fresno Yosemite International Airport, speeding north before ending at the Lansing Way location near Clovis Recreation Center as the driver ditched his car. Several officers approached the home where the driver was hiding, but only one officer fired a shot, Dyer said.
A passenger in the car was arrested without incident.
This was the third officer-involved shooting in five days in Fresno. On Thursday and Saturday, officers critically wounded suspects. There have been six officer-involved shootings this year in Fresno, compared with eight in 2014.
“There’s no question what’s happening across America,” Dyer said. “There’s an increase in aggressiveness towards officers. We’re seeing police officers that are being shot, officers that are being assassinated. Certainly police officers are being very vigilant, but at the same time I know that there’s a high level of scrutiny and criticism on the actions of officers.
“What we have seen this week is an increase level of aggressiveness towards officers, and when officers fear for their life, or for the life of someone else, they use deadly force, and unfortunately we’ve had three of those incidences occur in the last week.”
Megan Ginise: 559-441-6614