Riverside County sheriff's deputies were able to track down a man Tuesday who was suspected of fatally shooting two people and wounded a deputy because his vehicle was seen fleeing the scene by one of 300 remote surveillance cameras that blanket Moreno Valley, authorities said.
The man's body was found Wednesday near Pigeon Pass with an AR-15 rifle nearby.
The body was discovered after an extensive overnight manhunt that followed the fatal shooting of a man inside a home in the 25000 block of Delphinium Avenue. The suspect, who authorities did not identify, then allegedly shot a woman dead shortly before 2:25 p.m. at a nearby Shell gas station at Sunnymead Ranch Parkway and Old Lake Drive.
During a news briefing Wednesday, Riverside County sheriff's Capt. Joel Ontiveros detailed the chaotic series of events that unfolded as more than 100 law enforcement officers flooded the area.
Witness statements initially led authorities to look for as many as five armed suspects, but Ontiveros said detectives now believe only one man was responsible. That determination was made “very early this morning,” Ontiveros said.
“There were a number of incidents occurring at the same time,” he said. “When you have a situation like this, and when you have those kind of statements being made, you have to take them seriously until you can disprove them."
Ontiveros said Moreno Valley’s citywide camera system -- 300 cameras positioned in various public places -- was “instrumental” in identifying the suspect. An officer monitoring the cameras saw the suspect's vehicle fleeing the area and was able to direct law enforcement to the scene.
The man abandoned his vehicle a short time after speeding away, Ontiveros said, which is when two deputies engaged him in gunfire. One of those deputies was wounded in the confrontation, but Ontiveros did not elaborate on the injury except to say that it was not life-threatening.
A massive manhunt ensued, stretching into the night. A tracking dog, working with SWAT officers located the man's body.
Relatives identified the female victim as 74-year-old Wilma Patterson, a grandmother of 12 who they said was the mother-in-law of the man killed inside the home. Sheriff's officials, however, would only acknowledge that the two were connected.
There was a possibility that there was "some relationship" between the victims and the suspect, but there was no “definitive information," Ontiveros said.
When deputies confronted the suspect, a civilian was in the “wrong place at the wrong time” and was injured, Ontiveros added. That person, a landscaper, fell as he fled from the gunfire and suffered non-life-threatening injuries.
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