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Suspect opens fire on police

Wanted felon injured during gun battle

Suspect opens fire on police

A multi-agency manhunt for Jorge Alberto Mendoza, 25, of Waterford, was launched Wednesday when he fired two shots at Ceres Police Officer Brian Peterson.


POSTED February 4, 2011 9:52 p.m.

A man, who is suspected of shooting at a Ceres police officer days earlier, was wounded during an exchange of gunfire with law enforcement Friday evening just outside of Turlock.

The wounded suspect was identified by the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department as Jorge Alberto Mendoza, 25, of Waterford.

It is unknown how many times Mendoza was shot. It is believed he was shot in the abdomen. He was taken by ground ambulance to a Modesto area hospital, said sheriff spokesman Deputy Royjindar Singh.

No law enforcement or bystanders were injured during the shoot-out with the suspect.

A multi-agency manhunt for Mendoza was launched Wednesday when he fired two shots at Ceres Police Officer Brian Peterson. The officer was not hit, though one of the shots struck his patrol car, shattering the rear window.

Law enforcement investigating Wednesday’s shooting had developed information that Mendoza was hiding at a residence in the 5500 block of Geer Road, between Keyes and Alderson roads. Units from the Ceres, Turlock, and Modesto police departments, as well as the sheriff’s department, and agents from the state parole department and the Federal Bureau of Investigations, were involved in the search for Mendoza, Singh said.

Investigators and patrol units were in the process of surrounding the home around 4:45 p.m. Friday when Mendoza came out with a gun and opened fire. Law enforcement returned fire, striking Mendoza, who retreated back into the home.

From inside the home Mendoza made a 911 call on his cell phone, telling dispatchers that he had been shot and that he wanted to surrender. Investigators negotiated with Mendoza for nearly an hour before he surrendered and was taken into custody.

Investigators and SWAT personnel continued to search the property for several hours, deploying a helicopter and using diversion tactics like flash bangs. Singh said the search was being conducted to look for anyone who might be hiding on the property, not necessarily additional suspects. No one else was found, he said.

One woman, who lives near the crime scene and didn’t want her name used, said she and her children heard all the gunfire and immediately took cover.

“I told them all to hide under their beds, because I didn’t know what was going on,” she said.

The family stayed hidden in their house until officers started banging on their door.

“It was very scary because I thought it was the guy they were looking for trying to get into my house,” she said.

Mendoza had been on the run since the Wednesday shooting and was considered armed and dangerous. He has an extensive criminal past, including a couple of firearm-related offenses.

The first incident began Wednesday morning when Officer Peterson noticed a suspicious vehicle parked in front of a convenience store at the corner of Mitchell and Service roads. Peterson stopped to speak to the individuals around the red Chevrolet pickup and, according to law enforcement officials, Mendoza had a nervous behavior and kept putting his hands in his pockets, contrary to the officer’s orders.

The Ceres Police Department said Peterson initiated a pat-down of Mendoza and Mendoza started struggling with him. The two men wrestled to the ground and Mendoza was able to free himself and pulled out a gun and fired.

Peterson was able to take cover during the shooting. He did not return fire, the Ceres Police Department reported.

Mendoza was last seen running east. A perimeter was set up around the area and for 12 hours law enforcement searched for the suspect. A Special Weapons and Tactics team, K9 units, and a helicopter were called out to aid in the search.

To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail sstafford@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.

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