MORGAN HILL (CBS SF) — A Santa Clara County sheriff’s deputy who was shot and injured in an ambush on Friday night in unincorporated Morgan Hill may have been saved when a bullet struck the body camera he was wearing, authorities said.

Sheriff’s department officials made the announcement at a news conference Monday.

Deputy Sukhdeep Gill was patrolling Friday night in the sheriff’s office’s jurisdiction on Uvas Road when he was ambushed by someone in an approaching car at 10:32 p.m., according to the sheriff’s office.

As the unidentified vehicle approached — a silver 2000’s sedan, possibly a Honda — with its lights switched off. One or more suspects fired at least four shots at Gill, who was outside his vehicle at the time.

“It’s a very rural country road, very windy, and so it’s very haphazard to turn off your lights for anything other than what we believe was this unprovoked sneak attack,” said Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Lt. Brendan Omori.

The deputy was hit once when the bullet reportedly struck his body camera and body armor around the center of his body.

He suffered an injury that is not life-threatening and is recovering at home, according to the sheriff’s office. The suspect or suspects fled and remain at large.

Sheriff Laurie Smith on Monday called the shooting an “unprovoked attack” and “an ambush.”

President of the San Francisco Deputy Sheriffs Association Ken Lomba told KPIX 5 the job comes with inherent risk.

“Being a deputy sheriff, being in law enforcement, it’s really dangerous,” said Lomba.

Patrolling unincorporated areas comes with it’s own unique set of challenges and isn’t necessarily safer.

“You have to think about where your partner is, who is your back-up, the distance your backup has to travel, is your backup busy?” explained Lomba.

Gill, who has been with the sheriff’s office since 2015, is said to be a practicing Sikh who wears a traditional headdress. The sheriff’s office said it is unclear if the motive of the shooting was a hate crime or a crime of opportunity against law enforcement.

Katie Nielsen contributed to this story.

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