By Julie R. Johnson
Corning Observer, Corning, Calif.
TEHAMA COUNTY, Calif. — The Tehama County sheriff’s deputy shot during an exchange of gunfire with a 29-year-old Stockton man around 7:30 p.m., Saturday, July 7, in the parking lot of the Dollar General on Highway 99E in Los Molinos, is doing well and expected to make a full recovery, said Tehama County sheriff’s Det. Rob Bakken. An unsworn employee of the sheriff’s office who was on a “ride-along” with the deputy suffered a “grazing wound” and is also recovering.
The suspect, Jose Alfredo Barajas, is reported to have killed himself with a “self-inflicted gunshot to the head,” reported the sheriff’s office. Barajas is reported to have also suffered “several wounds consistent with his involvement with the officer involved shooting.”
Bakken said the incident started when the deputy saw Barajas changing vehicle license plates in the Dollar General parking lot.
The deputy pulled into the parking lot, got out of his patrol vehicle and made contact with Barajas. During that contact, Barajas got away from the deputy, went back to his Honda sedan and grabbed a semi-automatic rifle and began firing shots at the deputy and the patrol vehicle, the sheriff’s office said. The deputy was able to pull his handgun and return fire.
During the exchange of fire, the deputy, who was wearing a protective vest, was struck in the torso. The vest reduced the bullet’s damage, but did not stop it from entering the deputy’s body, said Assist. Sheriff Phil Johnston.
“The bullet caused a non-life threatening injury and the deputy was transported by ambulance to a local hospital for treatment,” Bakken said.
“The unsworn sheriff’s employee was treated at the hospital and released,” Johnston added.
The deputy’s canine partner was also in the patrol vehicle and was uninjured.
After the exchange of gunfire, Barajas got into the Honda and drove out of the parking lot traveling northbound on Highway 99E at speeds reaching 100 mph.
The Honda entered Red Bluff on Antelope Boulevard, police officers attempted to intercept the fleeing vehicle.
Bakken said the Honda entered Interstate 5 northbound with police in pursuit.
Near Hooker Creek, the Honda went off the road and overturned. Barajas was pronounced dead at the crash site.
Bakken said several firearms were retrieved at the site of the crash, and ballistic tests are being conducted to determine which firearm was used to shoot the deputy.
It was initially thought a second suspect may have been involved in the incident, and a door-to-door search of the vehicle crash area was conducted.
“Through video surveillance and witness statements it was determined Barajas was the only suspect involved in the shooting,” Bakken said.
As is Tehama County Sheriff’s Department protocol, the Tehama County District Attorney’s Office is assisting in the officer-involved shooting ongoing investigation, as it the Department of Justice.
“Both the deputy and the unsworn employee continue to recover and are thankful for the incredible support they have received from the community,” Bakken said.
The sheriff’s office has not released the name of the deputy or unsworn employee.
©2018 the Corning Observer (Corning, Calif.)