The three officers that were injured in a shootout in Southeast Fresno Tuesday are out of the hospital and still recovering. But now the investigation begins into what appears to be a staged attack on law enforcement.
Someone called in a tip to police telling officers where wanted felon Jerry Vue had been hiding. Authorities had been looking for Vue for more than a year and sent in a specific task force to go after him.
Someone told detectives that Vue, wanted for kidnapping, rape and torture, was in an apartment complex in Southeast Fresno. A group of officers trained to go after violent criminals descended on that complex.
“One of the officers did in fact see Jerry Vue standing in the driveway, Vue looked in the officer’s direction, unknown if he knew there were officers outside,” Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said.
Vue’s nephew, standing with two kids, told officers that his uncle wasn’t home. The officers started searching when Vue jumped out from under a pile of clothes. Dyer said the officers appeared right where Vue wanted them.
“He clearly and demonstrated his intent to not be taken alive by firing at officers, ambushing officers and being involved in a running gun battle against officers,” Dyer said.
What happened next was an exchange of gun fire. A bullet proof vest saved parole agent Nate Castro’s life. A U.S. Marshal was shot near the stomach and returned fire at the same time. Sheriff’s deputy Robert McEwen was hit by shrapnel.
“There were multiple rounds fired, this was a war that went on between those two gentleman, luckily our deputy won and the bad guy didn’t, but it could have very easily gone the other way,” U.S. Marshal Albert Najera said.
Vue eventually fell and was pronounced dead and armed with a handgun. In his apartment were more guns, lots of ammunition and five pounds of marijuana. Vue was, according to federal agents a man that was good at not getting caught.
The CDCR team consisted of Special Agents Dennis Reitz and Scott Moore, and Parole Agents I’s Joe Basile and Nate Castro. The task force established a perimeter around the residence. After removing other occupants of the house, including minor children, agents entered the home.
The first one in was Agent Castro. Upon entering the garage, Vue opened fire on the team and shot Castro, who was protected by a bullet-resistant vest that no doubt saved his life
Agents continued to respond to Vue while covering the injured Castro, even stepping into the line of fire to prevent Vue from entering the rest of the apartment. Vue ran outside and continued to shoot at the task force officers until he was shot and killed.
In addition to Castro, Fresno County Sheriff’s Deputy Robert McEwen and a Deputy U.S. Marshal were wounded by Vue. All three recently received the Law Enforcement Purple Heart, issued by the U.S. Marshal Service, in recognition of their actions.
The Law Enforcement Purple Heart is an American law enforcement medal issued to officers who are wounded or killed in the line of duty, its color representing bravery, courage and honor.