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Calif. suspect shot by CHP still at large

Jeffrey Daniel Crone refused to follow commands from officers and appeared to be reaching for something in the cab when one of seven officers surrounding Crone’s pickup fired four shots, hitting him three times

By Greg Welter
Chico Enterprise-Record

CHICO, Calif. — A police search continued Tuesday for Jeffrey Daniel Crone, 32, a driver wounded by a California Highway Patrol officer March 4 after a chase that reportedly included Crone repeatedly ramming an occupied vehicle.

Crone underwent surgery and spent 11 days at Enloe Medical Center. He walked out of the hospital Monday afternoon before police had a chance to serve an arrest warrant.

The chase began about 1:11 a.m. when an anonymous 9-1-1 caller reported a suspicious vehicle on Aguas Frias Road. It ended at 1:59 a.m. on West Fifth Street near Walnut Street in Chico, where one of seven officers surrounding Crone’s pickup fired four shots, hitting him three times.

Crone, a Chico resident, reportedly refused to follow commands from officers and appeared to be reaching for something in the cab.

Chico police took the lead in a multi-agency investigation, which on Monday concluded that out of concern for his safety and that of a bystander, Oroville CHP officer David Friese was justified in shooting Crone.

The suspect faces charges of reckless evading and assault with a deadly weapon.

Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey said Crone wasn’t arrested immediately after the chase due to a number of complications, not the least of which is the arresting agency would have been liable for his medical treatment, which included surgeries for three bullet wounds and a shattered elbow.

Police and Enloe officials have been reluctant to talk about what appeared to be Crone’s sudden departure from the hospital. Police said he technically wasn’t under arrest while hospitalized, but had been advised an arrest warrant was pending upon his release.

Crone couldn’t be placed at the Butte County Jail in Oroville until he was well on the way to recovering from his wounds, police spokesman Sgt. Rob Merrifield said.

Enloe spokeswoman Laura Hennum said patient privacy laws prevent her from commenting on details about Crone’s hospital stay and release.

“During Mr. Crone’s stay, all hospital procedures and policies were followed,” Hennum said.

“We are working in complete cooperation with the Chico Police Department on their investigation,” she stated.

During a Monday press conference that was still in progress as Crone walked out of Enloe, Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey said it was his understanding Crone would remain hospitalized until at least Tuesday or Wednesday.

Hennum declined to state if Crone left the hospital against medical advice.

Crone was under police guard early after his admission to Enloe, but Merrifield said the expense of paying an off-duty officer overtime for that duty has to be weighed against other issues.

He said a full-time guard on a hospitalized suspect is rare, but recalled that a man wounded by police in a Seventh Street shootout several years ago was considered extremely dangerous and watched by police until his release.

Crone is described as 5-foot-10 and about 190 pounds. He has a shaved head or close-cropped blond hair, and is heavily tattooed on his chest, arms and neck. Inking on his chest is the figure of a man with his eyes gazing up into Crone’s face.

He left Enloe wearing red shorts and a white hooded sweatshirt with an eagle design and possibly some writing on the front. A woman he was seen with is a white adult with blond hair.

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