Dyer: Bullet fired by gang member strikes Fresno officer’s windshield

A Fresno police officer was targeted by gunfire from a gang member Tuesday night – the fourth such incident since December, Chief Jerry Dyer said Wednesday. Jose Molinero, 19, was booked on attempted murder charges.

The shooting took place as the officer, who was not injured, was investigating gang-related shootings in southwest Fresno. Dyer said it shows that “gang members have become more brazen” and are showing an increased willingness to fire their weapons.

“That causes me a great deal of concern as a police chief,” Dyer said at a news conference called to provide details about the incident.

It took place in the 2100 block of South Tupman Street, where the plainclothes officer and a partner were standing by two unmarked cars. They were investigating numerous incidents of gunfire in the area over the weekend, Dyer said. The officers – who were wearing tactical vests that identified them as police – spotted a car approaching them at high speed and shined flashlights at the vehicle to alert the driver to slow down. Dyer said the car first slowed but then sped away recklessly. The officers then put on emergency lights and pursued.

Dyer said the driver slowed almost to a stop, then sped away again. The officers called for assistance from a traffic officer but the pursuit, which reached speeds of 80 to 90 mph, was called off by a supervisor who deemed it too dangerous to the public. The plainclothes officer then noticed that a bullet had penetrated the lower left portion of his windshield. The search for the car resumed, and it was located near Jensen and Chateau Fresno avenues west of the city. Officers found the car near agricultural pumps with an 18-year-old woman still inside. They located Molinero in a nearby orchard. A search by a police dog also turned up a loaded, .357 Smith & Wesson revolver stolen in Clovis in 2009.

The chief said Molinero is a member of the Lao Blood gang, which has taken part in recent gang violence. While acknowledging the danger to police posed by armed criminals, Dyer said, “our department will not be deterred from going after gang members.

“I admire police officers for what they do, day in and day out,” he said. “They are my heroes.”

Gang-related shootings involving police

Dec. 4: Fresno police officers targeted when gunfire broke out early Sunday morning at a Fresno fairgrounds party attended by gang members.

Dec. 7: Two undercover Fresno police officers were shot at while driving

Jan. 26: Fresno police searching for a man who fired at officers.