Memorial service Wednesday for slain Mendocino County deputy

A public memorial service for slain Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputy Ricky Del Fiorentino will be held Wednesday at the Cotton Auditorium in Fort Bragg, the Sheriff's Office announced Friday as new details emerged about the deadly encounter with an Oregon man.

Hundreds are expected to attend Wednesday's 10 a.m. service for the veteran deputy, who was killed in a hail of gunfire by a suspect on a violent crime spree that began in Eugene, Ore., and ended 3 miles north of Fort Bragg.

Sheriff's Capt. Greg Van Patten said law enforcement agencies near and far have contacted the office expressing a desire to attend and participate in a procession from Ukiah to Fort Bragg that will begin at 7 a.m.

Del Fiorentino was gunned down on a narrow residential road in Cleone by Ricardo Antonio Chaney, 32, who also is suspected of killing Eugene resident George Bundy Wasson, 79, and setting his home on fire before carjacking a BMW and heading to California. Chaney forced the car's occupants into their trunk but they were able to escape and call police, according to multiple law enforcement accounts.

During his flight, Chaney exchanged gunfire with the owner of the Confusion Hill amusement center near Leggett in northern Mendocino County, then led law enforcement on a chase in which speeds reached 100 mph. As he headed toward Fort Bragg, law enforcement closed Highway 1 north of the city.

Chaney briefly gave his pursuers the slip in Cleone, and shot Del Fiorentino when their paths crossed on a single-lane road in a rural subdivision. Chaney was wearing a ballistic vest and was armed with two assault rifles, the Sheriff's Office said Friday. A shotgun was found in the BMW.

Chaney subsequently was killed in a gunbattle with a Fort Bragg Police Lt. John Naulty, who responded to the scene after hearing gunfire. Naulty was assisted by Fort Bragg Police Chief Scott Mayberry, who arrived during the exchange of gunfire and provided cover for Naulty, according to a Sheriff's Office statement released Friday.

Mayberry had his gun out but did not fire it, he said Friday evening.

"When I got there, Lt. Naulty had established the threat and was engaging (Chaney). I couldn't see Chaney from where I was," he said.

Mayberry said Naulty, a veteran with more than 30 years of service, returned fire with a .223 caliber long rifle.

Calls to the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office on Friday afternoon were referred to the Mendocino County District Attorney's Office.

The office of District Attorney Dave Eyster released a statement saying the office did not anticipate "commenting on any details" in the shooting deaths.

"A clear, concise explanation of the events surrounding the deaths will be outlined in a report at the conclusion of the investigation," the statement said. The report will likely not be ready for weeks, the statement said.

The killing has rocked the Fort Bragg area community, where Del Fiorentino lived and worked.

"We're just heartbroken," said Fort Bragg resident Muin Daly. She expects most of the city's residents to attend the memorial service.

Del Fiorentino spent most of his 26-year law enforcement career in Fort Bragg, 10 of them with the Fort Bragg Police Department.

Sheriff Tom Allman described him as brave, hardworking and community minded. He coached wrestling at Fort Bragg High School and was president of the local Police Activities League.

Del Fiorentino is the father of three adult children and was raising a 6-year-old stepdaughter with his second wife.

A memorial fund has been set up in his name at Savings Bank of Mendocino County, PO Box 3600, Ukiah 95482.

(Staff Writer Elizabeth M. Cosin contributed to this report. You can reach Staff Writer Glenda Anderson at 462-6473 or glenda.anderson@pressdemocrat.com.)