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Deputy fatally shot near Fort Bragg; suspect killed in shootout (w/video)

  • Elbert "Bud" Burdick, left, speaks with two Mendocino County SWAT team members to try and gain access to his home nearby where Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputy Ricky Del Fiorentino was shot and killed outside Fort Bragg, Calif., on March 19, 2014. (Alvin Jornada / The Press Democrat)

Chaney was found dead nearby a short while later after a second confrontation and gunbattle with a Fort Bragg police lieutenant who heard the initial gunfire and responded to the area.

Officials initially said Chaney, who suffered at least one gunshot wound, appeared to have taken his own life. Late Wednesday, Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman said, "Our current investigation shows that it was not suicide — that he was killed when Lt. (John) Naulty fired at him." The sheriff did not provide further details.

Earlier in the evening, a somber and emotional Allman praised Del Fiorentino at a news conference as "a very brave man."

Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputy Fatally Shot

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It was the first fatal shooting of a Mendocino County deputy since April 1995, when Deputy Bob Davis was killed in a shootout in Covelo. Allman said there have been just five fatal shootings of deputies in the county since 1850.

For some, the large law enforcement presence initially brought back memories of the five-week manhunt for Aaron Bassler, the 35-year-old man who in 2011 fatally ambushed two well-known North Coast men, including Jere Melo, Fort Bragg's former mayor.

"Early on, I thought, 'Oh, God, not again,'" said Dave Turner, Fort Bragg's current mayor.

Allman said the encounter Wednesday with Chaney happened about 10 hours after the slaying suspect stole a black BMW at gunpoint 400 miles to the north in Eugene and forced its two occupants into the trunk.

The occupants had not been located by local law enforcement Wednesday night. Allman speculated that they had escaped or been freed, but he did not provide additional details on their whereabouts.

At 10:34 a.m., Allman said, the Sheriff's Office received a call after a local business owner fired shots at the suspect at Confusion Hill, a tourist attraction along Highway 101 north of Leggett.

John Mills, 55, who has owned the attraction since 2005, said Chaney was urinating within the fenced park area outside.


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