Friends and colleagues Thursday remembered slain Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputy Ricky Del Fiorentino as and avid outdoorsman and veteran cop.
The former high school wrestling and football star in Napa loved his job and took pride in his career, they said. But it came to a tragic end Wednesday when he encountered a violent gunman on California 1 north of Fort Bragg.
When he pulled up in a patrol car and came face-to-face with the suspect from Oregon, who was wanted for kidnapping and linked to a homicide, the assailant opened fire with an assault rifle, killing Del Fiorentino.
A Fort Bragg police lieutenant later killed the gunman, identified as Ricardo Anthony Chaney, 42, officials said.
Authorities who responded to a fire about 12:36 a.m. Wednesday in Eugene, Ore., found George Bundy Wasson shot to death. Police say the fire was started after Wasson was killed, the Associated Press reported.
Chaney is suspected of carjacking two men a short time later before driving to California, where he shot and killed Del Fiorentino, sheriff's officials say.
Police say the two carjacking victims escaped and were unharmed.
Wasson was an elder of the Coquille Tribe, a respected teller of tribal legends, and a retired adjunct instructor of anthropology at the University of Oregon, the Associated Press reported.
“His guidance and wisdom and living his tribal values certainly set a good example for the students. That is gone now,” said Gordon Bettles, steward of the Many National Longhouse at the university where Wasson held a storytelling session on Tuesday.
Gov. Jerry Brown, state officials and law enforcement leaders offered public condolences to Del Fiorentino.
"Anne and I were saddened to learn of the tragic death of Deputy Del Fiorentino," Brown said in a statement. "Deputy Del Fiorentino was killed upholding the oath he swore: To protect his community."
Brown ordered Capitol flags be flown at half-staff. Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris also issued a statement, saying Del Fiorentino's death is a "stark reminder of the danger our brave men and women in law enforcement face every day to keep our communities safe."
Chaney appeared hundreds of miles south of Oregon at Confusion Hill, a tourist attraction north of Leggett, Calif., about 10:30 a.m. Wednesday.
John Mills, the attraction's manager, told KPIX-5 that Chaney fired a couple of shots from a sawed-off shotgun after he told him to stop urinating nearby.
Mills said he fired back with a pistol but did not appear to have struck him. The search continued as Chaney fled and was later spotted on California 1, leading authorities on a car chase that reached speeds of more than 100 mph.
Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman said Chaney opened fire with an assault rifle when Del Fiorentino, 48, of Fort Bragg, came upon the stolen car.
A Fort Bragg police lieutenant heard the gunfire, followed the sound and arrived to find Chaney scavenging through Del Fiorentino's car. After a gun battle, the lieutenant later found Chaney dead in the bushes.