Law Blocked Sheriff From Telling ICE About Release Of Man Who Later Shot Deputy
Dos Palos, CA – A Merced County sheriff’s sergeant was repeatedly shot by a wanted violent offender who is also an illegal alien, according to the sheriff.
“We had him in our custody in January of this year,” Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke said during a press conference. “And because of the folks in [the state capitol of] Sacramento eliminating our ability to cooperate with ICE, we could not turn him over.”
“Not only has this guy been a proven danger prior to this incident, the attempted murder of one of my sergeants, the attempted murder of a California Highway Patrol officer,” the sheriff continued, according to the Merced Sun-Star. “He should have been not in this country and placed back in the country of origin.”
Guadalupe Lopez-Herrera, 51, was already on probation for assault with a deadly weapon when he was arrested in January for shoving his wife against a wall and threatening to kill her with the knife he was holding, KFSN reported.
Lopez-Herrera was sentenced to just 45 days in jail and three years of probation for that offense.
By August 7, another domestic violence incident resulted in a warrant being issued for his arrest, KFSN reported.
Lopez-Herrera was still on the run when he attempted to kick and shoot his way into the home where his wife was staying over Labor Day weekend.
"Just knowing the kids were in the house when this was going on when he was assaulting his wife, when he had this gun and was shooting rounds off inside the house that right there just goes to show you that this guy didn't care about anybody but himself," Merced County Sheriff’s Deputy Daryl Allen told KFSN.
“He’s got a very long history of domestic violence against him,” Deputy Allen added. “Just violence in general.”
Investigators with the Merced County Sheriff’s Tactical and Reconnaissance (STAR) team managed to track Lopez-Herrera to a home in Dos Palos on Sept. 4.
But as the team moved in to take the fugitive into custody, Lopez Herrera ambushed them from behind a fence hidden by shrubbery, KFSN reported.
Merced County Sheriff’s Sergeant Clint Landrum, a 14-year veteran-of-the-force, was struck in the leg and chest by the gunman’s rounds.
Sgt. Landrum managed to get himself to safety using a drainage ditch, KFSN reported.
His ballistic vest took the brunt of the bullet to his chest, and he is expected to recover from the gunshot wound to his leg, KSEE reported.
Lopez-Herrera managed to flee the scene by using a truck and trailer to smash through a closed chain-link gate, Sheriff Warnke said.
Investigators later learned that he ended up in Firebaugh at Eagle Field, a former World War II Air Force training facility, where he carjacked a white pickup truck.
The search for the armed fugitive continued through the night, Sheriff Warnke said.
Paso Robles police spotted the stolen vehicle near Creston Road and Niblick Road in San Luis Obispo County at approximately 11:10 a.m. on Sept. 5, The Tribune reported.
Lopez-Herrera refused to pull over, and led officers on a chase on Highway 46 East at speeds of over 120 miles per hour.
Additional law enforcement agencies, including California Highway Patrol (CHP), joined in on the high-speed pursuit.
As the gunman approached Reef City on Highway 41, a spike strip was deployed.
He managed to continue on to Interstate 5, then opened fire through his windshield at a CHP trooper who was deploying another spike strip, KSEE reported.
The trooper was not hit by the gunfire.
Lopez-Herrera eventually threw his handgun out of the window of the truck, but continued to drive recklessly on two shredded tires.
An officer in an unmarked police vehicle ultimately used a Pursuit Intervention Technique (PIT) maneuver to send the stolen truck careening into the median near Kettleman City.
The suspect refused to comply with police even after his vehicle was stopped, so a K9 was deployed, KSEE reported.
The K9 latched onto Lopez-Herrera’s upper left arm, and the fugitive was taken into custody.
The chase lasted for at least 45 minutes, Sheriff Warnke said.
The illegal alien has been charged with 11 felony offenses, including domestic violence and attempted murder, KFSN reported.