UPDATE: The Fresno Police Department reported around 9:15 a.m. that Chief Paco Balderrama will be at the scene to give an update on the incident at 9:45 a.m.
UPDATE: Clovis Unifed around 9 a.m. reported that classes at Kastner Middle School are delayed further, until 10:50 a.m., and officials were prepared to potentially cancel the school day.
“We are keeping students from campus to reduce traffic in the area and keep a clearance area around the vicinity of the Savemart building. Please plan for a one-hour notification should we be able to start the school day. If the situation is not resolved by 11:30 a.m. we will take steps to cancel the school day entirely.”
UPDATE: The suspect remained barricaded inside the Save Mart grocery store off First and Nees avenues early Friday morning.
Nearby Kastner Middle School was placed on a two-hour delay.
ORIGINAL STORY: An off-duty Fresno County Sheriff’s deputy fired shots on Thursday night at a driver who had refused to stop and instead began ramming other vehicles outside of Macy’s at the River Park shopping center in northeast Fresno.
The shooting incident led to a lengthy, ongoing standoff after the suspect managed to flee the scene then barricaded himself inside the Save Mart grocery store off First and Nees avenues.
The store is located approximately 1 1/2 miles from the Macy’s.
As the suspect barricaded themselves inside, a mixture of Fresno Police officers and deputies with the sheriff’s office surrounded the Save Mart with many wearing tactical gear and guns in their hands.
“We know you are inside,” an officer said through a loud speaker. “You need to exit now.”
As of 10:30 p.m., the suspect still had not come out of the store.
It was unclear if anyone had been injured from the shooting or inside the grocery store.
Authorities believe the suspect was by himself in the store after employees and customers eventually fled. The Fresno County Sheriff’s office said it was not known if the suspect was armed, though law enforcement was treating the situation as if he was.
The entire parking lot had been roped off.
The off-duty deputy who fired at the suspect had attempted to stop the man because the vehicle he was driving matched description of a car involved in a previous crime, according to the sheriff’s office.
The car was believed to be part of a previous home burglary in which firearms were stolen. And the department had recently sent out a notification of that unsolved crime.
In addition to the vehicle, the three people who had entered the car at the Macy’s parking lot matched descriptions of suspects involved in the home burglary.
When the off-duty deputy commanded for the car to stop and the three people to stay put, a man and woman rushed out of the vehicle and ran back inside the Macy’s store. They were both taken into custody by other deputies who had been called in for backup.
The driver of the vehicle, however, started ramming other vehicles to get away from the off-duty officer.
It was not immediately known how many shots the off-duty officer fired but at least one bullet struck the suspect’s front window on the driver’s side.
Having escaped from the scene, the suspect then fled down Nees Avenue to First Street, where he abandoned the car in the shopping center on the northeast corner of the intersection then ran across the street to the Save Mart.
The sheriff’s office said the suspect had been seen inside and outside of the grocery store, including on top of the roof — as seen through the department’s use of a drone.
“He really has nowhere to run at this point,” Fresno County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Tony Botti said. “We have him cornered off. It’s a matter of hopefully getting him to finally give up.
“If he doesn’t, the SWAT team will make that ultimate decision if they need to go in to try to take him into custody.”
***AVOID THE AREAS*** River Park, where an officer involved shooting took place & the Save Mart Shopping center at First & Nees in Fresno where the fleeing suspect ran toward. @FresnoSheriff @FresnoPolice @ClovisPolice_CA actively searching for the suspect. Centers closed off. pic.twitter.com/vjaSlLhA0T
— Fresno Co Sheriff (@FresnoSheriff) May 20, 2022
Police are advising the public to avoid the area.