Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman confirmed that Deputy Ricky Del Fiorentino was killed in Cleone, a rural area north of Fort Bragg, today just before noon when he was shot in his patrol car by a suspect wanted out of Oregon who was involved in a high speed chase that began near Leggett.
Del Fiorentino, a Fort Bragg resident who coached wrestling, would have turned 49 on May 28. Allman said his patrol car was riddled with bullets.
The suspect, Ricardo Antonio Chaney, 32, later exchanged gunfire with a Fort Bragg Police Department officer, who responded after hearing the shots and found Chaney riffling through Del Fiorentino's vehicle, Allman said. Chaney took Del Fiorentino's gun and is believed to have committed suicide. He also suffered a gunshot wound to the leg, Allman said.
Allman said Chaney is suspected in a crime spree that began in Eugene, Ore., early this morning. He is also suspected of brandishing a shotgun at a Confusion Hill business owner around 10:30 a.m. The owner was able to knock the gun away and go to another room, Allman said. Chaney then shot the gun through the locked door before fleeing. The business owner fired at the leaving black BMW.
Allman remembered Del Fiorentino as a brave deputy.
He recalled the last words he spoke to Del Fiorentino were about two weeks ago in a briefing room.
"Ricky, I wish we could clone 30 more of you," Allman said, recounting the conversation. "And he said, 'The world's not ready for that.'"