The man shot to death by a Lake County CHP officer was identified Friday as Ronald Walter Ossenberg, 52, a homeless man with a lengthy criminal record who had been released recently from the Orange County jail.
Prosecutors said Ossenberg had been on a crime spree before the encounter Wednesday with the CHP officer near Lower Lake.
The name of the officer has not been released.
Ossenberg had stolen a 2010 Toyota Camry from a car lot in Fullerton, fled from state park police in San Luis Obispo County and taken a backpack from a woman on the Golden Gate Bridge before heading to Lake County, where he had vacationed in the past, said District Attorney Don Anderson.
Ossenberg had a criminal history that included arrests for violence against peace officers, domestic violence and drug offenses. He also was a registered sex offender and had felony warrants issued for his arrest, Anderson said.
Ossenberg was sitting in the stolen car along the side of Highway 29 when a CHP officer stopped to check on the situation, Anderson said. She asked him to get out of the car to evaluate whether he was intoxicated. While the officer was running a computer check on Ossenberg, he attacked, choking her and throwing her to the ground, Anderson said.
Ossenberg then jumped on the officer and attempted to remove her gun from its holster, he said. As they struggled, a passerby stopped and ran toward them, distracting Ossenberg and allowing the officer to gain control of the gun. The officer fired one shot, hitting Ossenberg in the torso.
"We credit (the passerby) with saving her life," Anderson said. With (Ossenberg's) record and what we know of him, he probably would have killed her," Anderson said.
He said he would not divulge the name of the Good Samaritan at this time.
After being shot, Ossenberg got into his car and drove about 30 yards before veering across the road and crashing through a fence and into a vineyard, Anderson said.
The CHP Officer rendered first aid until medical units arrived. Ossenberg was pronounced dead at the scene.
The name of the CHP officer is not being released, per policy, Anderson said. She currently is on leave, he said.
(You can reach Staff Writer Glenda Anderson at 462-6473 or firstname.lastname@example.org.)