GILROY (CBS SF) — A former police officer was arrested on suspicion of stealing a car, assaulting a police officer and possessing methamphetamine after he drove onto a field at Gilroy High School on Sunday afternoon, prompting a police officer to shoot at him.

Chad Browning, 42, of Fresno, was arrested and booked into Santa Clara County Jail with bail of $250,000 on Sunday evening, according to Gilroy police. Browning cooperated with detectives but police said he was incoherent when he tried to explain his actions.

Police said Browning is a former police officer, but is not affiliated with any law enforcement agencies in Fresno, where he currently lives.

Officers first learned of a stolen vehicle out of Fresno on Sunday morning. The police bulletin said the suspect was a former police officer who had stolen a car and recently tried to get a gun from a family member, according to police.

Browning called Gilroy police at about 1 p.m. Sunday and said the woman who had reported the stolen vehicle had been kidnapped. He also told officers the stolen vehicle belonged to him, according to police.

Police said he refused to provide more information and hung up the phone, which he had allegedly stolen from someone with developmental disabilities who let him borrow it.

He then called police again and told them about athletic games happening at Gilroy High School, and his desire to fight with officers.  Police responded to the area and found him driving through an unoccupied field adjacent to the school’s stadium, where hundreds of fifth- and sixth-graders were playing Pop Warner football.

Police said the children’s parents recognized the danger, rushed to close football field gates and were able to prevent any injuries.

Realizing there was no other exit, Browning allegedly drove back the way he had entered and drove directly toward an officer who was on foot.  Police said the officer was in a confined area with no escape and shot at Browning’s vehicle to protect himself.

“The officer was aware of the risks in the area and knew his backdrop was clear of any other people, minimizing risks to those uninvolved in the incident,” police said in a news release.

Browning was not hit by the gunfire, but then lost control of the vehicle and surrendered to officers. No one was injured during the arrest, according to police.

The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office will review the case. Anyone with information is asked to call Gilroy police at (408) 846-0350.


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