A Gilroy police officer fired one shot at an approaching stolen vehicle Sunday morning near youth sporting events at Gilroy High School, and police reported an arrest with no injuries.
Gilroy police said they had received a report of vehicle theft that occurred in the city of Fresno.
“The suspect associated to the stolen vehicle had no direct ties to the Gilroy area,” a Gilroy police spokesperson.
At approximately 1pm Sept. 9, police released a statement about the morning shooting.
Included in the afternoon police bulletin about the incident was information that the suspect arrested near Gilroy High School Sunday afternoon is a former police officer who had access to firearms. He had recently tried to obtain a firearm from a family member, police said.
Police said the man had asked to borrow a cellular phone from a person in the area, so that he could call the police to report a crime. During the call, police said the man referenced the stolen vehicle case from Fresno.
He told dispatchers that the woman who reported the vehicle stolen had been kidnapped and that his vehicle had been stolen from him while in Gilroy. Police said the caller had refused to provide specific information to police dispatchers. The suspect disconnected with dispatchers and left the area, stealing a cellular phone from a developmentally disabled citizen who had allowed him to use it.
Minutes later, police said the man called again. “He made mention of athletic games taking place at the Gilroy High School campus and his desire to fight with police officers, “ police said in a statement.
Officers immediately responded to that area and located him driving a vehicle through an unattended ball field directly adjacent to the Gilroy High stadium where several hundred 5th and 6th graders were playing in a series of Pop Warner program football games.
“Several parents attending the game did an outstanding job in recognizing the danger, and rushed to close the gates leading the field where the young football players were engaged in their games,” police said in a late afternoon statement.
There was no exit in the area and the suspect began to exit via the same path he took to enter the field, police said.. As officers moved into this area to contact him, he drove his vehicle directly at an unidentified officer who was on the same path and on foot. “The officer was standing in a confined area and had no escape as this trail is lined with fencing on both sides,” police said in a statement. “The officer feared he would be seriously injured or killed and he discharged his weapon once in an effort to defend himself.”
The officer was aware of the risks in the area and knew his backdrop was clear of any other people, minimizing risks to those uninvolved in the incident, police reported.
The gunshot caused the driver of the vehicle to lose control of his vehicle in the field area and he surrendered to officers without incident.
The attendees and players were ordered to shelter in place until the area was deemed safe. Nobody was injured in the incident, including the officer or the suspect. The suspect is not an employee of or in any way affiliated with the Gilroy Unified School District or the Pop Warner program, said a police spokesman. Several witnesses were present to this event and will be interviewed by detectives.
The officer will be placed on routine administrative leave which is consistent with department policy. The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office has been notified and will review all related reports upon their completion. As this investigation was still unfolding Sunday evening, Sept. 9, the identity of the suspect and his booking charges will be released in coming days.
School officials said Gilroy Unified School District leases the Gilroy High School football field to the Gilroy Browns Pop Warner Football organization.
“Gilroy Unified School District wishes to commend the officers on duty for the Gilroy Police Department for their swift response to ensure the safety of all in attendance on campus at Gilroy High School,” said school district spokesperson Melanie Corona. “We would like to thank those parents and coaches in attendance at the football game who did everything possible to keep the players and other attendees safe.”
“We are relieved that this situation was resolved quickly and without incident. Many thanks to Gilroy Police Department and to the parents in attendance at the football game for keeping the attendees safe,” said GUSD Superintendent Dr. Deborah A. Flores in a Sunday statement.
The suspect has no affiliation with any of the activities that were taking place on campus at Gilroy High School, said Corona.
Earlier this summer, Gilroy police held an “active shooter” training event at the Gilroy High School campus.
Anyone with information regarding this crime are urged to call Gilroy Police detectives at (408) 846-0350. Parties wishing to remain anonymous may call the We-Tip Line at (800) 782-7463.