Park Ranger Shot At In Moraga; Suspects Sought

MORAGA (CBS SF) – A manhunt by East Bay Regional Park District police and Alameda County sheriff’s was called off Tuesday near the Upper San Leandro Reservoir after shots were fired at an officer on Monday night, police said.

At least one person fired an assault rifle at a park police officer while he was on patrol at around 6:50 p.m. Police said the officer returned fire and took cover. He was not injured in the attack.

The officer called for emergency assistance and was safely extricated from the scene using the park district police armored rescue vehicle, police said.

The shooter or shooters may have been attempting to protect a marijuana grow operation, East Bay Regional Park Police Capt. Mark Ruppenthal said.

The search was conducted by special response teams from park police assisted by sheriff’s deputies and air support from the park police helicopter.

KCBS’ Holly Quan Reports:

The remote area is located 2 to 4 miles south of Moraga town limits, near the border between Alameda and Contra Costa counties. Monday night’s attack was in Alameda County, but Tuesday’s search is being conducted on both sides of the county line.

The police helicopter conducted a sweep of the watershed lands and provided cover for the officers on foot.

Park police were assisted in Monday night’s search by the California Highway Patrol, the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office, and the Richmond, Moraga, Orinda, and Lafayette police departments.

Police said they did not know why the suspects fired at the officer and the investigation is ongoing.

Although the park does have a history of marijuana growing operations, dog walker Fritz Stoop said he’s surprised anyone would choose to do something illegal in such a public place.

”There are people hauling hay in and out of here all day, and there are cattle ranchers,” said Stoop on Monday morning. “I just can’t imagine it. It must be a very small amount if they are actually growing pot.”

Anyone with information is asked to call police at (510) 881-1833.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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