Fremont, CA – A Fremont police officer was ambushed by a pedestrian as he was out on patrol late Thursday night.
The incident occurred at approximately 10:50 p.m., as the unnamed officer was traveling southbound down Civic Center Drive, the East Bay Times reported.
As he approached the crosswalk intersection near Washington Hospital, the officer “noticed a lone male emerge from the east side of the civic center,” Fremont Police Captain Fred Bobbitt said during a press conference early Friday morning.
The male suddenly “pointed a firearm, and fired rounds at or officer,” Capt. Bobbitt told reporters. “The officer’s vehicle was actually struck by gunfire.”
Immediately after he came under fire, the officer made a U-turn, and stopped his patrol car.
He then “deployed his rifle and engaged the suspect,” who was attempting to hide behind a large planter, the captain said.
The officer returned fire, and the gunman collapsed to the ground.
“It’s clear that this officer was driving, was ambushed, and thankfully had the training to not just protect himself, but to protect the community,” Capt. Bobbitt added.
Two additional officers arrived at the scene, as the wounded gunman writhed around on the ground.
He ignored their orders to hold still, and instead began moving towards his handgun, which was lying on the ground in plain view.
“The suspect crawled toward the firearm, actually grabbed onto the firearm, pointed it at our officers, and both of our officers fired at the suspect, striking him,” Capt. Bobbitt said.
Just 17 minutes after the confrontation began, the unnamed gunman was pronounced dead.
The officers were not injured during the shootout.
“This is a very unfortunate incident. An extremely dangerous incident,” the captain said. “We very well could have lost not just one, but several officers tonight.”
Police said they do not know what the gunman’s motive was, KGO reported.
The Fremont Police Department said it plans to release additional information, as well as bodycam footage of the officers’ encounter with the gunman, by early next week, according to The East Bay Times.
The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office will conduct a parallel investigation into the officer-involved shooting, the department said.
Although the investigation is still ongoing, Capt. Bobbitt said he is confident that the shooting was justified, KGO reported.
"We, as an organization, do not like to use deadly force. Understand that. We train our officers with less lethal tools, we train them in de-escalation,” he explained. “But you have to understand this was an incident where deadly force was appropriate. This individual tried to kill three Fremont police officers who were just trying to protect the community.”