Sheriff's deputy killed in shooting near Fort Bragg

Sheriff's officials report that a deputy has been shot and killed by a suspect in the Cleone area, just north of Fort Bragg.
March 19, 2014 12:00:00 AM PDT
A Mendocino County Sheriff's deputy died in a hail of bullets Wednesday when a kidnapper turned his assault rifle on the officer.

The crime spree started with a kidnapping in Eugene, Oregon and ended just north of Fort Bragg in the tiny community of Cleone, claiming the life of Dep. Ricky Del Fiorentino.

The body of the suspect was still at the crime scene at 11 p.m. Wednesday. Police say Ricardo Antonio Chaney, 32, went on a violent crime spree that started in Eugene, Oregon and ended in Northern California.

"I was probably half a mile away when the shooting happened," said Mendocino County Lt. Greg Stefanie.

When Stephanie pulled up to his friend of 26 years, Del Fiorentino's squad car and body were riddled with bullets. Police say Chaney had just gunned him down with an assault rifle.

"Just a big heart. Was known for helping people out every chance he got," said Stefanie.

Police say Chaney started his crime spree early this morning in Eugene, Oregon. He robbed and kidnapped the occupants of a black BMW, then drove south on Highway 101 to a tourist stop called Confusion Hill. A store owner says they argued and Chaney pulled out a double-barrel shotgun.

"So the business owner retreated to an office and locked the door and he retrieved a handgun, and was able to return fire because the suspect was firing also," said Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman.

Chaney drove off and was intercepted by sheriff's deputies on Highway 101 in the town of Leggett. They chased him, then lost him off of Highway 1 in Cleone.

"Ricky's patrol car actually came nose to nose with the BMW. He wasn't even able to get out of his car. He was ambushed," said Allman.

A Ft. Bragg police officer arrived and exchanged gunfire with Chaney who ran into the woods. An all-out manhunt followed. Schools were locked down and residents were told to shelter in place until police found Chaney's body late in the afternoon. He apparently died from multiple wounds suffered during the gun battle.

A procession escorted the body of deputy Del Fiorentino away around 10:30 p.m.

As for the BMW occupants who were kidnapped, police say they somehow escaped and are safe tonight. We also found out Chaney was arrested on March 6 for possessing an illegally modified AK-47 and body armor. We're not sure what his criminal history was, but he was released, probably too soon.


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