Sheriff: Suspect in shooting of Calif. LEO was in US illegally

The sheriff says the suspect was previously in custody, but could not be turned over to ICE due to sanctuary laws

By Shawn Jansen
Merced Sun-Star (Merced, Calif.)

MERCED COUNTY, Calif. — A 51-year-old Dos Palos man accused of shooting a Merced County sheriff’s deputy was captured Thursday following a nearly hour-long high-speed chase.

According to Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke, the suspect Guadalupe Lopez-Herrera fired one shot at California Highway Patrol officers before he was apprehended after the chase ended in Kettleman City on Thursday afternoon. During a news conference Thursday, Warnke also revealed Lopez-Herrera was in the country illegally and had threatened the lives of his wife’s family.

The detective was shot just before 3:30 p.m. Wednesday near the intersection of Eucalyptus Road and Highway 33 in Dos Palos. Investigators were following up on a domestic violence report from the weekend.

Warnke said the pursuit lasted 45 minutes or more and started with the city of Paso Robles in San Luis Obispo County and then it was turned over to the CHP. The chase covered stretches of Highways 46, 41 and Interstate 5 before a spike strip was deployed in Fresno County, disabling the white pickup truck driven by Lopez Herrera.

Because Guadalupe-Lopez had made threats on the lives of his wife’s family, officers were staked out in front of their home in San Luis Obispo County.

Suspect has violent history, records show

The wounded detective was taken to an area hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, Deputy Daryl Allen said. The detective was shot just above the knee and is “recovering well” according to Warnke.

“We started an investigation on this person as of Saturday,” Warnke said. “He’d been involved with several violent domestic violence cases and had been on the run, so to speak, for a length of time. We had tasked our (Sheriff’s Tactics And Reconnaissance) to locate and apprehend this person. He also had a warrant for his arrest.”

As they approached the house Wednesday to follow-up on the investigation, Lopez-Herrera opened fire, shooting rounds through the fence. The detective was hit in his bullet-proof vest and his leg.

Lopez-Herrera fled the scene in a truck with a trailer. He eventually ended up at Eagle Field, which was once a World War II Air Force training facility, in Firebaugh. According to Warnke, Lopez-Herrera carjacked a white pickup truck and began his escape.

Warnke said detectives worked through the night pursuing leads.

Lopez-Herrera has a history of domestic violence, Merced County court records show.

He pleaded no contest Jan. 23 to a domestic violence charge and to making criminal threats. He was sentenced to 45 days in jail and three years on probation. He also was ordered not to possess any firearms, court records show.

“We had him in our custody in January of this year, and because of the folks in Sacramento limiting our ability to cooperate with ICE, we could not turn him over,” Warnke said. “This kind of rings of what happened to Ronil Singh in Newman.

“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 because of this when he should have been not in this country and placed back in the country of origin.”

The victim in the January case sought a restraining order against Lopez-Herrera, asking a judge to prevent him from contacting her and her three young children.

The woman told the court Lopez-Herrera threatened to kill her with a kitchen knife. In the request for a restraining order, the woman said Lopez-Herrera then threatened to kill himself.

“You can tell the children that you provoked me to kill myself and it was all your fault,” he is quoted in the court record.

The woman said Lopez-Herrera then slammed his head into a refrigerator. He then approached one of the young children, showed his injuries and said “Look what your mother did to me,” according to court records.

The woman described Lopez-Herrera as “very jealous, controlling, very angry easily.”

“He has strangled me and (threatened) to kill me,” she told the court. The woman went on to say she was “very scared” her children might be raised “without a mother.”

Lopez-Herrera’s probation was revoked Aug. 7 after he failed to appear in court and a warrant was issued for his arrest, according to court records.

©2019 the Merced Sun-Star (Merced, Calif.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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