RIVERSIDE COUNTY, Calif. — Authorities say that a rifle-wielding man who had been chasing his estranged wife while threatening to kill her before leading Riverside County Sheriff’s deputies and CHP officers on a dangerous high-speed chase was fatally shot after crashing his vehicle and refusing to surrender Friday afternoon, Jan. 29.
The deadly incident began at a business in the 39000 block of Washington Street in Thousand Palms and ended about nine miles away in the area of Jefferson Street, north of Avenue 48, in La Quinta, according to officials.
Friday’s fatal encounter was the second deputy-involved shooting involving estranged spouses in the last four days, with the first happening in the unincorporated community of Homeland on Tuesday. In that incident, deputies fatally shot a man who opened fire on them during a call involving a woman who reported her estranged husband was inside her home while armed with a handgun and threatening to kill her.
Deputies assigned to the Palm Desert Sheriff’s Station responded to an unspecified Thousand Palms business on Washington Street at 12:40 p.m., after receiving reports of an assault with a deadly weapon, Riverside Sheriff’s Sergeant Lionel Murphy later said of the fatal encounter.
“Prior to the ‘911’ call being made, the victim ran into a local business and reported that her estranged husband was armed with a rifle and trying to kill her,” explained Murphy.
When a deputy arrived he spotted the alleged suspect sitting inside a red Ford Ranger pickup truck and attempted to contact the man.
“The suspect backed up his pickup truck and fled the area at a high rate of speed,” the Sergeant explained; adding, “At that time, a vehicle pursuit began.”
As the chase continued south toward La Quinta a CHP officer joined the pursuit, according to Murphy.
“The vehicle pursuit ended when the suspect’s vehicle collided with an uninvolved vehicle in the area of Jefferson Street, north of Avenue 48,” said Murphy; adding, “The suspect was struck by the gunfire and ultimately succumbed to his injuries.”
Officials did not specify exactly what led to the deadly shooting; however, witnesses later reported hearing deputies issuing commands over a PA loudspeaker for the suspect to put his hands up and surrender, followed by more than a half-dozen gunshots.
The rifle the deceased man had reportedly been threatening his estranged wife with was found inside his pickup truck and recovered as evidence, according to the Sergeant.
The suspect’s name has not been released pending further investigation and notification of the man’s family.
“An Investigator from the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office will lead this investigation, aided by the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department Force Investigations Detail and Central Homicide Unit,” said Murphy.
The deputy and CHP officer who fatally shot the suspect were later placed on administrative leave per their department’s policies and their names have not been released.
No officials or other citizens were injured during the pursuit or deadly shooting and Murphy said there were no outstanding suspects and no further danger to the public.
The shooting investigation is active and ongoing and anyone with further information regarding this incident is encouraged to contact D.A. Investigator Nava at (760) 863-8468 or Investigator Moody at (760) 393-3525. Callers can refer to incident file number O210290015 and can remain anonymous.
This is a developing story that will be updated as new information becomes available.