Fresno man sentenced to life in prison after attempting to kill police officer, police say

Local News
DA: Attempted cop killer found guilty in Tulare County

37-year-old Ignacio Lopez (left) and 51-year-old Melissa Sarver (right). Images provided by the Tulare County District Attorney’s Office.

FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE)- The South County Justice Center in Porterville says a Fresno man has been sentenced to life in prison after shooting at a police officer.

37-year-old Ignacio Lopez was wanted in Fresno County for a triple bank robbery, on Aug. 18, 2020, and the DA’s office says he led police in a pursuit and fired at officers who were attempting a traffic stop on the vehicle he was in.

Police say on Aug. 18, 2020, officers with the Tulare Police Department were on the lookout for a vehicle thought to be involved in a shooting earlier that day.

According to officials, an undercover unit located the vehicle parked behind a dumpster at a local bank. Police say they watched as the car left the parking lot and drove off, committing several infractions in the process, but it was determined that this car was not the vehicle from that morning’s shooting.

Police say the woman driving the car, Melissa Sarver, 51 of Fresno, was accompanied by Ignacio Lopez, 37 of Fresno, in the passenger seat.

According to official documents, an officer prepared himself for a felony stop, positioning his vehicle alongside the passenger side when Lopez pointed a handgun at the officer.

Authorities say shots were exchanged between Lopez and the officer, while some rounds struck the patrol vehicle.

As Lopez was wounded, police say he and Sarver eventually surrendered and were taken into custody.

Further investigation revealed that Lopez had a failure to appear warrant issued for his
arrest in Fresno County for a series of alleged bank robberies. Officials say Lopez was on bail for those
crimes when the shooting occurred.

Video surveillance from the Tulare Bank where the incident began showed Lopez exiting the Impala wearing a mask, gloves, hat and sunglasses attempting to enter the bank lobby, which was closed due to COVID-19.

Officials say Lopez was convicted of willful, deliberated, premeditated attempted murder of a peace officer with personal discharge of a firearm, assault on a peace officer with a semi-automatic
firearm, conspiracy to commit a bank robbery and for his two prior felony theft
convictions.

Prior to the trial, authorities say Lopez pleaded no contest to being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, but Sarver pleaded to conspiracy to commit bank robbery and felony evading.

According to officials, Sarver was sentenced to over three years in prison on Aug. 2 and as sentenced by the Court, Lopez must serve 114 years in prison before being considered for parole. However, AB 3234 (2020) provides that inmates who are 50 years and older and have been incarcerated for 20 continuous years will be eligible for a parole suitability hearing.

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