FRESNO COUNTY, California (KSEE/KGPE) – Authorities have taken into custody the suspect who they say shot a Merced County Sheriff’s deputy Wednesday near Dos Palos, the California Highway Patrol said Thursday.
The Merced County deputy was shot in the chest just before 3:30 p.m. near Highway 33 and Eucalyptus Road when responding to a domestic disturbance. He’s expected to be OK.
Guadalupe Lopez-Herrera, 51, was sought as the suspect who shot the deputy.
Merced Sheriff Vernon Warke said in a press conference that the 45-minute-long pursuit began along Highway 46 in San Luis Obispo County just before noon.
Officers from San Luis Obispo began the pursuit until the California Highway Patrol picked up the chase, Warke said. Lopez-Herrera drove from Highway 46 to Highway 41 and northbound on Interstate 5, where the chase ended in Fresno County along the freeway.
The CHP deployed spike strips along the freeway and used the PIT maneuver to stop the suspect who took officers on a chase that was reported to have gone up to speeds around 90 mph.
CHP Spokeswoman Shasta Tollefson said Lopez-Herrera fired a handgun through his windshield at the officer who deployed the spike strip, just missing him.
The suspect continued on Interstate 5 for a mile and a half until he tossed the handgun out the window, Tollefson said. Then he continued to drive recklessly down the freeway with two deflated tires.
It took an undercover police vehicle to stop Lopez-Herrera by ramming his getaway vehicle from the freeway’s northbound lanes and spinning into the median.
Tollefson said officers deployed a K9 after the suspect refused to follow commands. The K9 bit Lopez-Herrera in the upper left arm.
It was reported by the Merced Sheriff that the suspect carjacked the GMC pickup which was parked at Eagle Field near Dos Palos. He went to San Luis Obispo County due to interests in the area.
No officers were injured in the chase.
Lopez-Herrera will face attempted homicide charges on the Merced Sheriff’s deputy, Warnke said. The CHP is investigating the chase and the attempted shooting of their officer.
The deputy is off-duty for a few days to recoup after only suffering minor injuries and has been with the sheriff’s office for 14 years, Warnke said.
Lopez-Herrera is a known violent offender, according to Warnke, being the suspect in numerous domestic violence charges in Merced County.
Warnke adds Lopez-Herrera is also an undocumented immigrant that was in jail back in January. He said he would have notified Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) — but state law prohibited him from doing so.
Specifically, S.B. 54, which prevents local agencies from sharing detained immigrants’ information with federal agencies — or even allowing ICE agents into county jails.
The investigation is ongoing.