Napa Valley County, CA – The Napa County Sheriff’s Office (NCSO) has released dramatic bodycam footage that captured the moment a driver opened fire on a deputy (video below).
“It really can’t get any more clear than this,” Napa County Undersheriff Jon Crawford told the Napa Valley Register. “It’s graphic, it’s brutal, it’s sudden. Realistically it’s just a great reminder that we need to stay vigilant.”
The incident began at 10:59 p.m. on Sunday, when Napa County Sheriff’s Deputy Riley Jarecki noticed a parked red Honda facing the wrong direction along a rural section of Henry Road.
The lone deputy approached the car and spoke with the driver – 43-year-old Javier Hernandez Morales – for several moments, Undersheriff Crawford explained.
From her position outside the partially-opened passenger side window, Deputy Jarecki asked Hernandez Morales if she could “look around” the vehicle, bodycam footage showed.
The driver threw his hands up, and Deputy Jarecki asked him to stay put and not move.
“Okay,” Hernandez Morales said, showing the deputy his hands again.
“No problem, I don’t have problems,” he added in Spanish.
The deputy circled around the back of the car, shining her flashlight inside, and stopped at the driver’s side window.
She knocked on the glass, and told Hernandez Morales to roll the window down.
He hesitated for a moment, so Deputy Jarecki repeated her request.
Hernandez Morales muttered something to himself and scanned the area around him inside the vehicle before he finally pressed on the electric window button and opened the window.
“What’s up?” he asked her in Spanish.
Before she could reply, Hernandez Morales drew a .22-caliber revolver and immediately fired at least one round directly at the deputy.
“Hernandez Morales fired from close proximity, essentially without warning, and it’s pretty obvious to us he intended to kill her,” Undersheriff Crawford told the San Francisco Chronicle on Wednesday.
Deputy Jarecki immediately backed away and circled behind the car while alerting over the radio that there had been “shots fired," the video showed.
Hernandez Morales started the vehicle's engine as Deputy Jarecki made her way to the passenger side and returned fire.
She steadily unloaded at least 15 rounds into the vehicle, and the suspect yelled out just before the clip ended.
Hernandez Morales was pronounced dead at the scene, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
Investigators located a loaded .22-caliber rifle inside the car, and determined that the revolver Hernandez Morales used in his attempt to kill the deputy had been reported as stolen.
Undersheriff Crawford said that there were “a few warrants” for Hernandez Morales’ arrest at the time of the encounter, and that he was known to use “several aliases.”
The former farmworker has been arrested on at least five occasions in the past, for offenses including assault on a peace officer, driving under the influence, and possession of a concealed and loaded firearm.
The Napa County Major Crimes Task Force is handling the ongoing investigation into the shootout, NVCSO spokesperson Henry Wofford told the San Francisco Chronicle.
Deputy Jarecki was uninjured in the attack, and has been placed on administrative leave, as per protocol.
“I’m gonna call it divine intervention” that she wasn’t hit during the attack, Undersheriff Crawford told the Napa Valley Register.
“That was a pretty violent, shocking thing,” Napa County Sheriff John Robertson agreed. “Nobody wants to use lethal force, nobody even wants to use their gun… but she did what she was trained to do to eliminate the threat.”
Sheriff Robertson commended her for her swift action.
"The loss of life is something that we always take very seriously, either by this agency or by any other law enforcement agency,” Undersheriff Crawford told KGO. “In this case however, Hernandez Morales made the choice to attempt to murder Deputy Jarecki, and she responded accordingly.”
“We are proud of the deputy’s composure and her fight to save her life,” he added, according to KPIX.
Deputy Jarecki was sworn in as a NVCSO deputy on June 20, 2018, following in the footsteps of her father and grandfather, according to a department Facebook post.
She also served as a Calistoga police officer prior to joining the sheriff’s office, The Weekly Calistogan reported.
You can watch bodycam footage of the harrowing encounter in the video below: