MORENO VALLEY: Police fire between 10 and 40 shots as the man drives a pickup truck at them.
11:24 PM PST on Friday, November 26, 2004
By NATHAN MAX / The Press-Enterprise
MORENO VALLEY - A robbery suspect evaded authorities for several minutes Friday afternoon, crashing a stolen truck into a police car amid police gunfire before being apprehended by a police dog, authorities said.
John Gibbs, 25, of Riverside, was transported to Riverside County Regional Medical Center with a dog bite after witnesses said he somehow avoided a hail of bullets. Gibbs is being held on suspicion of three counts of assault with a deadly weapon and one count each of robbery, vehicle theft and a parole violation, police spokesman Cpl. Dennis Gutierrez said.
Witnesses said police fired between 10 and 40 shots at Gibbs as the man attempted to ram police cars with the truck he was driving near the intersection of Hemlock Avenue and Lamos Place.
The incident was the sixth officer-involved shooting in Moreno Valley this year and second in three days.
"They gave him every chance in the world to give himself up," said 24-year-old Nathan J.R. Phillips, of Moreno Valley. "He just tried to get away."
Phillips, a landscaper with Moreno Valley-based Pocket Change Lawn Service, said Gibbs took his cell phone as he was doing yardwork at an apartment complex on Lamos and calmly walked away. Phillips called the owner of Pocket Change, 47-year-old Kevin C. Breaux, who later arrived and attempted to negotiate with Gibbs.
"I offered him a cigarette to see if that would calm him down," Breaux said. "He said he was from some gang and if I gave him my sunglasses that would mean we were friends. I said, 'I'm not going to give you my glasses.' "
Breaux said Gibbs then asked for his cell phone and attempted to enter a company van by forcing a door open. Breaux called 911, but before police arrived Gibbs got into a nearby truck and drove back and forth on Hemlock for 20 minutes, doing doughnuts and screeching his tires, Breaux said.
Police arrived and demanded Gibbs get out of the pickup. Gibbs responded by shouting expletives at the officers, challenging them to shoot him and screeching his tires as he drove off, Breaux said. Once Gibbs was cornered, he drove into a field and later knocked over a utility pole. Gibbs then turned around and drove straight towards the officers, which is when they opened fire, Breaux said.
"I couldn't believe I witnessed this," Breaux said.
Gibbs crashed the truck into a police car, then attempted to run away. A Belgian Malinois police dog named Trek tracked Gibbs down and held him for officers.
Gutierrez said Gibbs hit the dog multiple times and tried to strangle it. Trek was taken to a local veterinarian to be treated for injuries.
Police were still investigating the incident late Friday.
I drove up at about 1 am, and found my usual route blocked by police tape and a shitload of police cars. so i turn around and go another way. Cops all over the place, the smashed up truck in the street about 20 feet west of my complex, things marked with little flags on poles all over the field next to my house. I don't like the idea of "a hail of bullets" anywhere near my house. I can see the field described from my front door. I'd say that I miss all the excitement, but it's probably best that i wasn't here for this - gunshots make me very edgy.
i think i'll go exploring the field tomorrow, see if i find anything interesting.