A car theft suspect died after exchanging gunfire with Manteca and Stockton police officers following a crash at the Jack Tone Road interchange in Ripon that capped a chase down Highway 99.
The pursuit was initiated at 2:36 p.m. Tuesday when officers assigned to the San Joaquin Auto Theft Task Force known as DELTARATT spotted a 2002 BMW 745I four-door sedan at Austin Road in Manteca. Since they were in unmarked cars, they requested assistance from the Manteca Police Department that pursued the vehicle in the southbound lanes of the freeway where they attempted to make a traffic stop. The suspect exited on the southbound off ramp at the Jack Tone Road interchange.
Police said the vehicle had been “cold plated” having it registered to a Ford rather than a BMW, giving them reason to believe it had been stolen and had a stolen license plate on the car.
Manteca Police spokesman Jodie Estarziau said the BMW crashed into the back of a 2013 Jeep Wrangler causing it to overturn into the bushes to the left side of the ramp near the top where the ramp intersects with Jack Tone Road. The woman driver motorist and 5-year-old girl received non-life threatening injuries and were transported to an area hospital to be checked for their conditions.
Witnesses said the suspect jumped out of his car after the crash clutching a handgun and scrambled down the sloping terrain toward the Union Pacific Railroad tracks shooting at officers as he fled with them returning the fire. None of the officers were hit but a plainclothes Manteca detective had positioned himself atop the Jack Tone Road bridge as the suspect reportedly fired at officers as he ran toward the detective on the bridge who also fired his duty weapon on him, according to a witness. The second officer involved was a Stockton police officer assigned to the auto theft task force and the Manteca detective was a 25-year veteran of the Manteca department. The names of the officers are being withheld.
That pickup truck and the area between the tracks and the freeway cloverleaf were all closed off with yellow crime scene tape. Both the southbound and northbound off ramps were also closed to traffic after the shooting occurred, officers said. The northbound ramp was reopened but the southbound ramp remained closed to traffic for some eight hours.
The California Highway Patrol was charged with investigating the accident and the Manteca Police Department took charge of the shooting scenario with the State of California Department of Justice truck arriving on the scene to assist in conducting a complete investigation that was expected to continue until about midnight in a lengthy county-wide protocol in the police involved shooting.
The suspect had been transported to a Modesto trauma center where he later died, police said. It was the first officer involved fatal shooting incident involving the Manteca Police Department since the June 2011 shooting on Flores Avenue.
Traffic was backed up onto the 120 Bypass as the result of the incident.