An attempt to serve a search warrant on a Turlock man turned into a multiple county pursuit that ended in an exchange of gunfire between the suspect and law enforcement.
The suspect, who has been identified as Kevin William Mayhew, 41, of Turlock, was wounded in the exchange and flown to a Modesto hospital. Turlock Police Chief Nino Amirfar said Mayhew sustained a grazing wound during the gunfire exchange.
Mayhew is the subject of an on-going investigation related to a fatal shooting in Turlock on Oct. 31, 2016, in which a suspected burglar was killed by a homeowner.
Thursday’s incident began around 7:45 p.m. when Turlock Police officers went to serve multiple search warrants in connection with the 2016 shooting. One location was at a home in the 300 block of N. Thor Street, where the 2016 shooting occurred and where Mayhew resided. Another search warrant was being served at a residence in the 1700 block of Guatavita Drive. The search warrants were for evidence related to the homicide, including firearms, said Turlock Police spokesperson Sgt. Neil Cervenka.
As officers were in the area they noticed Mayhew loading items into a vehicle, including a rifle case, and then leaving the area. An attempt was made to pull him over in the area of Quincy Road and Hawkeye Avenue, but Mayhew refused to yield and sped away.
As the pursuit passed into Merced County, officers from the Merced Police Department and deputies from the Merced County Sheriff’s Department joined in. Amirfar said the pursuit lasted well over an hour and reached speeds of 60 miles per hour as it wound through neighborhoods and rural roads. Multiple spike strips were deployed and finally proved successful on Snelling Road when Mayhew’s vehicle was disabled with flat tires.
Mayhew got out of the vehicle and immediately started shooting an assault rifle at the officers and the deputies, who returned fire, striking Mayhew one time.
Three deputies from the Merced County Sheriff’s Department, two officers from the Merced Police Department and one officer from the Turlock Police Department were involved in the shooting. All six of the officers and deputies fired at Mayhew. It’s unknown at this time whose bullet struck him.
None of the officers and deputies were injured in the exchange of gunfire, though a couple of the sheriff’s patrol cars were hit, resulting in shattered window shields and destroyed computers.
“If you can picture it you come into a dark area, the lights and sirens our going, you’ve been chasing the guy for an hour and all of a sudden he stops because the tires are all flat and all of a sudden you see a rifle coming out and muzzle flashes going, and your windshield is shattering and computers are blowing up in front of you,” Amirfar said. “You’re basically falling out of the car rolling over on the ground while you try and seek some type of cover.”
On Oct. 31, 2016, Juy Gastelo, 30, of Turlock, was fatally shot while allegedly breaking into a home in the 300 block of N. Thor Street, according to the Turlock Police Department. Gastelo was shot by the homeowner, who reported it to the police and claimed he caught the suspect breaking in. The name of the homeowner was not released at the time, but in a news release regarding the pursuit and shooting, the Turlock Police Department stated the home on N. Thor is owned by Mayhew.
“Our job is to verify if that was the totality of the circumstances in order to determine if the homicide was justifiable or not,” Amirfar said.
At the time, Gastelo’s family expressed shock that he would have been involved in a home burglary because his father-in-law had been shot and killed during a break-in years prior.
Turlock investigators were able to recover numerous items of evidence from locations they searched, including the N. Thor Street home. The search warrants remain sealed because of the on-going investigation.
“In the course of the investigation numerous firearms were recovered from the vehicle Mr. Mayhew was driving in the pursuit, including the assault rifle he used to try and kill the officers,” Cervenka said in the news release.
Mayhew is the son of Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge William Mayhew. In 2002 he was convicted of vandalism for shooting out several windows of businesses in Modesto and Turlock with a sling shot. Court records indicate a petition was later granted to have the conviction dismissed after Mayhew served his sentence.
Mayhew’s Facebook page paints a picture of him as a gun aficionado, with several photos of guns he describes as building himself. He also uses the hashtag “guntreasure” that he describes as his practice of burying firearm parts and then posting a photo of the area as a clue for seekers.
Mayhew wrote on his Facebook page: “I really am giving away gun parts. It's my new way to give back to the shooting community all over. I've already got the next lower built, but have to add a stock, then it's time to find a place to bury it!”
Mayhew has been booked by the Merced County Sheriff’s Department at the Merced County Sheriff County Jail for attempted homicide of a police officer. He is being held in lieu of a $4 million bail.
The Merced County Sheriff’s Department is handling the criminal investigation of the shooting, while the Department of Justice will be handling the crime scene investigation. The Turlock Police Department is conducting their own internal administrative investigation and the one officer who was involved in the shooting has been placed on administrative leave as per standard practice. The other law enforcement involved in the shooting also have been placed on paid administrative leave.
The Turlock Police officer involved in the shooting has no prior record of using deadly force, Amirfar said.
“He’s taking it rather difficultly,” Amirfar said. “I spent a lot of time with him last night, but he’ll get through it.
“Everyone thinks police officers are made of steel, but we’re not,” Amirfar continued. “We are human beings … it’s devastating. When I got there last night I can tell you that this young man was devastated. He did what he was trained to do, he acted appropriately based on the information he had, but he was still devastated.”