The memorial service for Mendocino County Sheriff's Office Deputy Ricky Del Fiorentino, who was shot and killed while pursuing an armed suspect north of Fort Bragg this week, will be held Wednesday.
Del Fiorentino, a veteran law enforcement officer and former high school wrestling coach, was killed in his patrol car by a Eugene, Ore., man who was later found dead with two gunshot wounds, according to officials.
The Mendocino Sheriff's Office on Friday released new details of the events that surrounded the deputy's death this past Wednesday, which ended a crime spree that began in Eugene, Ore., where Ricardo Antonio Chaney, 32, is believed to have killed a man and set fire to his home before driving south in a stolen BMW.
According to the sheriff's office, deputies were dispatched at 10:34 a.m. on March 19 to Confusion Hill on a report of an attempted murder.
Responding deputies were told that a white male adult shot at the business owner with a double-barreled shotgun after he was confronted about urinating outside, then fled southbound on U.S. Highway 101 in a vehicle described as a black Mazda or BMW four-door sedan with tinted windows.
As the suspect was leaving, the business owner walked outside and shot once at the suspect's vehicle with a pistol, the sheriff's office report states.
At 11:35 a.m., sheriff's office Lt. Greg Stefani spotted a black BMW sedan headed southbound near mile marker 72 on Highway 1.
The BMW suddenly accelerated to a high rate of speed and was seen driving recklessly “in an obvious attempt to flee from Lieutenant Stefani, who was behind the BMW at that time,” according to the sheriff's office statement. A pursuit ensued with Stefani losing sight of the BMW several times.
Officers from the Fort Bragg Police Department staged at mile post marker 63.5 and prepared to deploy a spike-strip to disable the BMW.
The suspect's vehicle never reached the location, and it was suspected the vehicle had turned onto a surface road in the small community of Cleone, just north of the city.
”At 11:51 a.m., an '11-99' (officer needs assistance) radio transmission was made with the notification that shots had been fired,” the sheriff's office stated.
The initial investigation suggests Del Fiorentino was searching the 24000 block of Park Drive in a Cleone subdivision “when he encountered the BMW traveling or parked facing ... the front of deputy Del Fiorentino's patrol vehicle from a short distance. The suspect, Ricardo Antonio Chaney, shot into the patrol vehicle multiple times, striking and killing deputy Del Fiorentino.”
Fort Bragg police Lt. John Naulty drove up behind Del Fiorentino's patrol car shortly after the shooting. Mendocino County Sheriff Thomas Allman stated at a Wednesday press conference that Chaney shot at Naulty, who returned fire.
Chaney was standing near Del Fiorentino's patrol vehicle as he exchanged gunfire with Naulty, then began to retreat into a bushy area beside a home along the road.
The gun battle continued and Fort Bragg Police Chief Scott Mayberry drove up behind Naulty's patrol vehicle. He provided cover as the pair began to move to a safer position.
Several law enforcement agencies set up a perimeter, while others searched the area for Chaney and a possible second suspect seen running from the scene.
Chaney was found a short distance away in the side yard of the home behind the brush line near Del Fiorentino's patrol vehicle. He was pronounced dead from what appeared to be two separate gunshot wounds, according to the sheriff's office.
The account did not say where Chaney was hit, but Allman previously stated that Chaney had a gunshot wound to his leg that was believed to be from the gunfight with Naulty.
Chaney was wearing a military-style ballistic vest and was in possession of two assault rifles when he was found, according to the statement. A double-barreled shotgun was found inside the BMW, which was taken at gunpoint from two men in Eugene. They were forced into the car's trunk but escaped before Chaney drove out of their apartment complex's parking lot.
Chaney was also reportedly a person of interest in a recent homicide in Oregon, the sheriff's office stated. Those cases are being investigated by the Eugene Police Department.
A possible second suspect was found hiding inside a pump house building and was determined to be an innocent bystander who ran from the scene for his own safety, according to the sheriff's office.
The Mendocino County District Attorney's Office has taken over the shooting investigation.
Del Fiorentino was a 26-year veteran of law enforcement, spending 10 years with the Fort Bragg Police Department and 16 years with the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office.
A public memorial service is scheduled at 10 a.m. Wednesday in the Cotton Auditorium, located at 500 N. Harold St., in Fort Bragg. A processional will leave the Ukiah fairgrounds at 7 a.m. and is expected to grow to around 400 vehicles by the time it reaches Fort Bragg around 8:30 a.m.