Man fires 50-caliber semi-automatic handgun at Mendocino County deputies

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A 26-year-old man fired a .50-caliber semi-automatic handgun — the highest caliber handgun available — at three Mendocino County sheriff’s deputies Thursday afternoon in Redwood Valley.

Deputies received a call at 12:54 p.m. from a motorist who reported a drunk or disoriented person on Central Avenue, Mendocino County Sheriff Thomas Allman said at a news conference Thursday evening. Three deputies — one of whom was a trainee — searched the area but were unable to find the individual.

The deputies drove down Uva Drive, and found a blue van parked in an oncoming lane at 1:10 p.m. Half of the van was sticking out into the road. Allman said that when deputies contacted the man inside the van, who they identified as a missing person from the Los Angeles area, the man yelled at the deputies and a fight ensued.

The deputies wrestled with the man on the ground, and one used a Taser to try to subdue the man, Allman said. The Taser, however, had no effect. Allman said the man went back into the van and fired one round from a Desert Eagle handgun at the deputies. The bullet traveled out of the vehicle in a downward direction, but did not strike anyone.

The three deputies returned fire, striking the suspect at least twice. They arrested the man, whose name has not yet been released, and medical personnel later airlifted him to a hospital outside of Mendocino County. Allman described the suspect’s injuries as nonlife-threatening.

Allman said deputies searched the van after the shooting and found a package containing a white powder, which will be tested.

One deputy suffered moderate scrapes on his arm from the fight but declined hospital care after firefighters treated his wound. Allman said that all three deputies have been placed on paid administrative leave as a result of the shooting, per department policy.

“I’ve met with all three of them and I’ve thanked them for being heroes to our county,” Allman said.

You can reach Staff Writer Chantelle Lee at 707-521-5337 or chantelle.lee@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @ChantelleHLee.

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