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Gunman who fatally shot Mendocino County sheriff's deputy kills self

Crime, Law and JusticeCrimeShootingsTheftPolitics

A Mendocino County sheriff's deputy died Wednesday in a shootout with an armed suspect who fled the scene and was later found dead in an apparent suicide, authorities said.

Mendocino Sheriff's Deputy Ricky Del Fiorentino died in the shootout about noon, the Press Democrat reported.

The suspect was identified as Ricardo Antonio Chaney, 32, of Oregon.

He is suspected in a crime spree that started early Wednesday with a reported armed robbery in Eugene, where he allegedly stole a black four-door BMW by forcing its occupants into the trunk, the Press Democrat reported.

The occupants were later able to escape from the vehicle, the newspaper said.

Sheriff Tom Allman told the Ukiah Daily Journal the deputy was shot in the Cleone area, just north of Fort Bragg.

Just after 4:30 p.m., the Press Democrat reported that investigators had called off their search for the shooter and nearby residents were no longer in danger.

Authorities were making automated calls “to let people know they don't need to worry anymore,” Capt. Greg Van Patten, a spokesman for the sheriff's office, told the paper.

U.S. Highway 1 near MacKerricher State Park was closed during the search, according to the Daily Journal.

Don Armstrong, the superintendent of the Fort Bragg Unified School District, told the Press Democrat that 20 students, ranging from kindergarten to 12th grade, were held at Fort Bragg schools while the road was closed.

Fort Bragg Mayor Dave Turner told the Press Democrat the shooting put the entire town on edge.

“People are worried," he said. "Anytime you hear someone got shot, that there's someone with a gun running, people are rightfully concerned." 

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