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Fallen Mendocino Deputy Remembered For Being Compassionate, A Star Athlete

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Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputy Ricky Del Fiorentino was fatally shot in the line of duty in Cleone, north of Fort Bragg, on March 19, 2014. (Mendocino County Sheriff)

Mendocino County Sheriff’s Deputy Ricky Del Fiorentino was fatally shot in the line of duty in Cleone, north of Fort Bragg, on March 19, 2014. (Mendocino County Sheriff)

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FORT BRAGG (CBS SF) — Residents in Napa and Mendocino counties are mourning a Mendocino County sheriff’s deputy who was killed Wednesday by a Eugene, Ore. armed robbery suspect.

Deputy Ricky Del Fiorentino, 48, a former Napa resident, was shot by Ricardo Antonio Chaney, 32, of Eugene Ore., the suspect in the armed robbery on Wednesday, the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office said.

Chaney, 32, fled Eugene in a stolen car and drove to Mendocino County, authorities said. Sheriff’s deputies spotted Chaney, and Del Fiorentino came upon Chaney’s car in Cleone near MacKerricher State Park north of Fort Bragg, the sheriff’s office said.

Chaney fired an assault rifle into Del Fiorentino’s patrol car while the deputy was still inside, and Fort Bragg police Lt. Don Naulty then killed Chaney during an exchange of gunfire.

Read More:
Man Who Killed Mendocino Sheriff’s Deputy Linked To Oregon Murder

Both Gov. Jerry Brown and Attorney General Kamala Harris expressed remorse over Del Fiorentino’s death.

“Anne and I were saddened to learn of the tragic death of Deputy Del Fiorentino today,” Brown said. “Deputy Del Fiorentino was killed upholding the oath he swore: To protect his community. We extend our deepest condolences to Deputy Del Fiorentino’s family, friends and coworkers and to the community of Fort Bragg,” Brown said.

Del Fiorentino was with the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office for 16 years and with the Fort Bragg Police Department for 10 years.

Harris said Del Fiorentino’s tragic death “is a stark reminder of the danger our brave men and women in law enforcement face every day to keep our communities safe.

“Deputy Del Fiorentino will never be forgotten by the people of California,” Harris said.

Del Fiorentino was a star football player and wrestler at Napa High School in the early 1980s. He was elected to the Napa High School Athletic Hall of Fame in 1998.

His football coach Les Franco, 70, of Napa remembered him Thursday as a great athlete and person.

“He was one of the best players I ever coached. He was a great individual, a great man. He was loved by everyone. All the students loved him. He had a great sense of humor, a great smile and a great laugh, and he was very compassionate,” Franco said.

Del Fiorentino went to the state wrestling championships when he was a senior at Napa High School in 1983, Franco said.

“He made it to the final round and lost 2-1,” Franco said. “He received a full-ride scholarship to the University of Oklahoma, but he was a California kid. He stayed a year and came back here,” Franco said.

Del Fiorentino, an outside lineman, was among 10 exceptional football players who turned the Napa High School Indians’ football program around, losing only two games one year, Franco said.

According to the Napa High School Athletic Hall of Fame, Del Fiorentino anchored the offensive and defensive lines for the 10-0 junior varsity football team.

He earned honors playing offense and defense on the championship varsity football teams in 1981 and 1982. He won All-County, All-Region and All-Northern California accolades as a senior.

A heavyweight wrestler, he placed second in the state championship, and once pinned an opponent in under eight seconds.

His overall high school wrestling record was 102-8 and he was 343-1 with 41 pins in his senior year. He won honorable mention in U.S.A. Wrestling’s 1983 All-American Team.

Franco said Del Fiorentino loved hunting and fishing and moved to Mendocino County.

The last time Franco saw Del Fiorentino was at his Hall of Fame induction.

“We’d always say we’re gonna get together, and it hurts we didn’t spend more time together,” Franco said.

“It’s a sad story. He would have given him (Chaney) a chance. It cost him his life. He was sprayed with a series of shots from a semi-automatic,” Franco said.

“I’m sure there will be a great outpouring. A lot of people are affected by this,” Franco said.

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