VACAVILLE — A low-speed police chase early Thursday night through the streets of south Vacaville ended with a fatal officer-involved shooting after the suspect tried to run down one officer and threatened others.
It’s the second fatal officer-involved shooting by Vacaville police in recent weeks. In both instances, police said the suspects tried to run down officers.
The pursuit began when police on patrol recognized a vehicle as one involved in a report of suspicious behavior earlier in the day, said Vacaville police Lt. John Carli.
“From a preliminary understanding of the events of the day . . . at some point earlier in the day – during day shift – there was a citizen within our community that was reporting suspicious behavior,” Carli said. “(That citizen) gave a description of a person and with that description complained of strange behavior.”
Officers coming on to the swing shift were briefed on that call and set up an extra patrol to look for the vehicle and person involved in the earlier incident.
“(They) saw the car that matched . . . this description and waited for the potential person to come out and see who it was and engage them in a possible investigation,” Carli said. “That, to my understanding led to an attempt to make a traffic stop somewhere on the other side of town with a failure to yield. That at some point then turned into a pursuit.”
That initial attempted traffic stop came around 7:30 p.m.
The pursuit didn’t exceed posted speed limits, Carli said.
Carli identified the driver of the vehicle only as a male, possibly in his late 20s.
The driver led pursuing officers along Elimira Road and Nut Tree Road and eastbound on Ulatis Drive, based on police reports relayed over scanner channels.
Officers tried to stop the suspect vehicle by placing spike strips across Ulatis Drive at Christine Drive, but the driver avoided the spike strips and aimed his car at the officer deploying the spike strips, Carli said.
“The other officers who were part of the pursuit, from what we can tell, also engaged in intervention maneuvers known as the pit, and trying to cause the car to come to a stop, (officers were) able to engage in that maneuver what we believe to be not once, but twice, trying to bring this pursuit to an end,” Carli said.
“What happens after that is going to be the subject of a lengthy investigation, but preliminarily, what we believe is that the officers who were able to end up at the final stop, which was near the original attempt for the spike strips, engaged the suspect as he exited his car in an extremely threatening manner, armed with objects that were considered deadly – not a handgun – but clearly objects in his possession, in his hand, coming directly at the officers who were also out of the car,” Carli said.
Those officers felt threatened at that moment, Carli said, and opened fire on the suspect, who was the only person in the car.
“The suspect was then treated almost immediately by the paramedics coming from the local station and pronounced dead at the scene,” Carli said.
Carli didn’t know exactly what weapon or weapons the suspect wielded, but said there were a number of objects on the ground near the vehicle, which he described as a burgundy compact.
“No firearm, but from what I can see there’s definitely objects near the car. That’s based on what I can see, I haven’t inspected them,” Carli said. “Investigators at the scene said these objects are clearly deadly weapons. They can be used to inflict great bodily injury or death to anyone. Pry bar, crow bar, hammer, knife, they were all there.”
It was early in the investigation, Carli cautioned, but he said the officers felt threatened. He noted what he described as “a deliberate attempt” by the driver to jump from the car in a “very aggressive” manner and charge directly at the officers. At that point, “at least one officer fired multiple shots,” Carli said.
The suspect’s name was not released.
Police initially blocked off Ulatis between Mills Road and Christine Drive. Police extended the crime scene west along Ulatis to Stoneybrook Lane at about 8:15 p.m.
Emergency responders initially called for a medical helicopter to land nearby at NorthBay’s VacaValley Hospital, located at Ulatis Drive and Nut Tree Road. Emergency personnel reported at about 7:45 p.m. that cardiopulmonary resuscitation was being performed on a gunshot victim – the suspect.
Reports from the scene indicate that the call for a medical helicopter was canceled a few minutes later.
A California Highway Patrol helicopter landed at a nearby park shortly after 9 p.m., dropping off investigators who were photographing the scene, Carli said.
Carli said any officers involved in the shooting will be placed on paid administrative lead, standard procedure in any officer-involved shooting. He said officials with the Solano County District Attorney’s Office was on scene investigating the shooting.
This is the city’s second fatal officer-involved shooting in the past three weeks. Police in Vacaville shot and killed Lonnie Taylor, 21, of Sacramento, on June 28 after he allegedly tried to run down officers during a traffic stop on eastbound Interstate 80.
Taylor led officers on a brief freeway pursuit after he was shot. The chase ended when Taylor crashed near Midway Avenue. He died a short time later at Kaiser Permanente Vacaville Medical Center.
Reach Mike Corpos at 427-6979 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/mcorposdr.