A man wanted for shooting a Merced County Sheriff’s sergeant in Dos Palos was arrested Thursday in Fresno County, but not before firing his gun at a California Highway Patrol officer during a lengthy pursuit.
Fortunately, the bullet missed the intended target and the suspect, Guadalupe Lopez-Herrera, 51, was taken into custody after a K9 was deployed.
The department’s investigation into Lopez-Herrera began on Saturday after they learned he had made threats against family members. Lopez-Herrera had been involved in several domestic violence cases and a warrant was issued for his arrest, said Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke.
The Merced County Sheriff’s Tactics and Reconnaissance team was tasked with arresting Lopez-Herrera and on Wednesday they went out to a home in Dos Palos where Lopez-Herrera was reportedly doing some manual labor.
The sergeant and a deputy were approaching the home when Lopez-Herrera began shooting at them, Warnke said.
One bullet struck the sergeant in the chest, but he was protected by his bulletproof vest. A second shot struck him in the leg above the knee.
The sergeant and the deputy returned gunfire, but the suspect was able to avoid being hit. He jumped into a truck with a trailer attached and sped away from the property, crashing through a gate in the process.
Warnke said the gunshot wound sustained by the sergeant was fairly minor in nature and that the sergeant had to be ordered to stop pursuing the suspect and be treated by the ambulance crew.
The suspect stopped at an old Air Force training site named Eagle Field and carjacked a couple for their GMC pickup truck. A search that included the use of a helicopter was conducted, but Lopez-Herrera was not located that evening.
By Thursday morning investigators had a lead Lopez-Herrera might be in San Luis Obispo and contacted the local law enforcement agencies.
Shortly before 11:30 a.m. Lopez-Herrera was spotted by an officer with the Paso Robles Police Department.
A high-risk traffic stop was initiated, but Lopez-Herrera sped away from the officers. The pursuit made its way to Interstate 5, where the CHP took over the effort to capture the suspect. A CHP officer set out a spike strip to try and stop Lopez-Herrera. As Lopez-Herrera drove by the officer he fired his gun out the windshield but missed the officer.
The spike strip popped two of the tires on the truck but Lopez-Herrera continued driving for about a mile and a half before coming to a stop along the shoulder of the freeway. According to the CHP, Lopez-Herrera waived the gun outside the driver’s side window and then threw it to the ground. He then began driving the truck away.
A CHP officer in an undercover vehicle sped up to the truck and rammed it, which caused it to spin into the median and come to a stop.
Lopez-Herrera opened the driver side door but refused to get out of the truck, the CHP reported. A K9 was sent out and bit Lopez-Herrera on the upper left arm, after which he was taken into custody.
The pursuit lasted about 45 minutes.
Lopez-Herrera faces a litany of criminal charges including attempted murder, carjacking, possession of a stolen vehicle and being in the country illegally.