Man arrested after allegedly shooting at Tulare County deputy during Highway 99 chase

·1 min read
Tulare County deputies arrested Daniel Mere Saldana, 36, of Merced, after he allegedly led law enforcement on a chase near Highway 99, temporarily closing the busy route Sunday afternoon.
Tulare County deputies arrested Daniel Mere Saldana, 36, of Merced, after he allegedly led law enforcement on a chase near Highway 99, temporarily closing the busy route Sunday afternoon.

A Merced County man is behind bars after allegedly leading law enforcement on a chase that ended in gunfire, the seizure of nearly 20 pounds of drugs, and the temporary closure of Highway 99 just outside Visalia.

The incident began Sunday morning when Daniel Mere Saldana, 36, of Merced, fled California Highway Patrol officers during a traffic stop near Highway 99 and Avenue 328, according to law enforcement.

The state agency requested backup from Tulare County deputies who intercepted Saldana on the freeway after a short chase. The suspect ran awayand attempted to carjack several motorists on the freeway using a handgun, according to sheriff's news release.

The suspect continued to run away from deputies with the firearm into an orchard. Highway 99 was closed to drivers as law enforcement swept the field.

Eventually, deputies located Saldana and a fight broke out. He fired one round at deputies during the confrontation, sheriff's officials said.

"Thankfully, no one was hit," sheriff's spokesperson Ashley Ritchie said.

Deputies recovered 6.5 pounds of cocaine, 6.5 pounds of fentanyl, 4.5 pounds of heroin and about a pound of methamphetamine at the scene, deputies said. Detectives located additional evidence at Saldana's home after serving a search warrant.

Saldana is accused of attempted homicide of a police officer, attempted carjacking, and possession and transportation of narcotics. He was booked into the Tulare County Pretrial Facility without bail, according to jail records.

He's yet to be charged, but is expected in court Tuesday.

The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information about the incident is encouraged to contact the sheriff's department at 733-6218.

Joshua Yeager is a reporter with the Visalia Times-Delta and a Report for America corps member. He covers Tulare County news deserts with a focus on the environment and local governments.

Follow him on Twitter @VTD_Joshy. Get alerts and keep up on all things Tulare County for as little as $1 a month. Subscribe today.

This article originally appeared on Visalia Times-Delta: Man arrested after shooting at Tulare County deputy, Highway 99 chase