A crime spree that began in Eugene, Ore., ended north of Fort Bragg, Calif., Wednesday when Mendocino County Sheriff's Office Deputy Ricky Del Fiorentino, 48, came face-to-face with an armed suspect who shot and killed him. The suspect was killed later that day.
Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman said suspect Richard Antonio Cheney, 32, stole a BMW in Eugene, Ore., in the early morning hours of March 19, forcing the two owners into the trunk and driving south.
At 11:38 a.m., MCSO Lt. Greg Stefani spotted the stolen vehicle on Highway 1 near mile marker 77, between Leggett and Fort Bragg. A chase ensued and reached speeds of more than 100 miles per hour, and Cheney crossed double-yellow lines on blind corners as he sped south toward Fort Bragg, Allman told the North Coast Journal.
Stefani lost sight of the driver and notified the Fort Bragg Police Department, which advised him the suspect had not entered the city. Authorities began searching the area north of Fort Bragg.
At 11:51 a.m., MCSO Deputy Del Fiorentino turned onto Park Drive about 3.5 miles north of Fort Bragg, and came face to face with the BMW and Cheney.
When authorities arrived, "Deputy Del Fiorentino's car was riddled with rifle (fire), and Deputy Del Fiorentino was deceased in the driver's seat of the patrol car," Allman said.
Lt. John Naulty of the Fort Bragg Police Department heard gunfire and came around the corner to find Cheney rifling through the deputy's car and taking Del Fiorentino's sidearm from his holster, Allman said.
Cheney reportedly fired six or seven rounds at Naulty, who returned fire, according to Allman. The lieutenant and the suspect exchanged 10 to 15 rounds, he said, and the suspect escaped into the brush.
The suspect was found dead in the area with a gunshot wound to his leg, Allman said. He said it isn't known how Cheney got the gunshot wound, but that he assumes it was from the gunfire exchange with Naulty.
The two people who were reportedly abducted by the suspect managed to escape at some point during the incident.