Wounded Officer Kills Suspect

Wounded Officer ki*ls Suspect

In Fontana, a policeman in the gang unit is shot in the neck but saved by his bulletproof vest.
By Lance Pugmire
Times Staff Writer

July 6, 2005

A Fontana police officer was shot and seriously wounded during a gunfight with a fugitive gang member late Monday night before he returned fire and ki*led the suspect, authorities said.

The officer, an 18-year police veteran and a member of the department’s gang unit, was shot in the neck “an angel’s whisper away from the carotid artery,” said Fontana police spokeswoman Dawn Rowe.

He also was shot twice in the chest but was saved by his bulletproof vest. The officer, whose name was withheld for his protection because of evidence of the suspect’s gang membership, remains hospitalized in stable condition, Rowe said.

The shooting occurred when the officer and his partner tried to stop Camilo Stuardo Morales, 26, of Ontario, who was riding a bicycle near the 16700 block of Holly Drive, she said.

When Morales failed to obey several commands to stop, he was caught by the officer on foot and the two began to fight, Rowe said.

Two of Morales’ shots struck the officer in the breastplate of his bulletproof vest “in the heart area,” and the third struck him in the neck, Rowe said.

The officer returned fire, kil#i*gg Morales with “several” shots, she said.

Morales was convicted in 2002 of illegally possessing a police baton and participating in a criminal street gang in San Bernardino County, and he was on probation when he was shot.

San Bernardino County Deputy Dist. Atty. Karen Schmauss said Morales was an illegal immigrant from Mexico who allegedly had dual membership in Lynwood and Ontario gangs. Schmauss said Morales told his probation officer in 2002 that his gang nickname was “Sniper” or “Little Sniper.”

Fontana police also said there were warrants for Morales’ arrest in previous narcotics and forgery cases.

“We don’t yet know why [Morales] was pulled over on his bicycle he could’ve been riding on the wrong side of the road or riding without a light but he would have been arrested because of his warrants,” Rowe said.

The injured officer was taken to a hospital by his partner and other Fontana police officers summoned to the scene.

“There is no question at all that the vest saved the officer’s life,” Rowe said. “We feel very fortunate that he wore his vest, and he’s very lucky he survived.”

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