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FORT BRAGG (CBS SF) – A Mendocino County Sheriff’s deputy was shot and killed Wednesday in a shootout following a police chase. The lone suspect is also dead, following a crime spree that spanned two states.
In an afternoon news conference, Mendocino County Sheriff Thomas Allman identified the deputy killed as Ricky Del Fiorentino.
Allman said Del Fiorentino was shot around noon Wednesday in the Cleone area, just north of Fort Bragg.
Allman said the suspect, identified as Oregon resident Ricardo Antonio Chaney, had been on a crime spree that began in Oregon involving armed robbery, kidnapping and forcing victims into the trunk of a car.
Early Wednesday morning in Eugene, Chaney allegedly carjacked a BMW and locked the owners inside. The sheriff said he is not sure how they got out of the trunk.
Later, around 10:30 am, the suspect arrived at a tourist attraction called Confusion Hill in Piercy, in northern Mendocino County.
Confusion Hill manager John Mills told KPIX 5 that he got in a shootout with the suspect after he found Chaney urinating on an outside wall of the property, just a few feet from the restroom.
Mills ordered him to leave, but the suspect went to the car and came back inside with a shotgun. Mills said the suspect fired one shot that landed in the ground, but then took aim again.
“I saw the barrel and I rolled away just as the second round went off and went through the window and hit the coke machine,” Mills said.
“And then he wheeled around and took off running,” Mills said. “I went in and grabbed my pistol and, as he was leaving, I fired a round at him. He acted like he nodded his head and ducked when I fired. I don’t know if I hit him or he just ducked.”
Mills said he was treated for a gunshot wound, after he was apparently hit by pellets that ricocheted off the Coke machine.
“I wasn’t sure if it was glass or lead, but they told me at the hospital it was lead,” Mills said.
Authorities said Chaney fled Confusion Hill and was spotted on Highway 1. Chaney then led deputies on a chase near MacKerricher State Park. The incident led police to close Highway 1 in the area for a time.
Del Fiorentino confronted Chaney along a dirt road. Authorities said the suspect opened fire, killing the deputy.
Other officers found Chaney and opened fire, wounding the suspect in the leg.
“The suspect fired between six and seven rounds at the lieutenant before the lieutenant fired at him,” Allman said. Chaney was killed by a police officer during the shootout. Previous reports said he committed suicide.
There were no other suspects being sought. Previous reports had mentioned two suspects but Allman said Chaney was the lone suspect.
Del Fiorentino grew up in Napa and had been in law enforcement for 26 years. He spent 16 years with the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office.