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CHP officer fatally shot during traffic stop mourned in California

Shootout kills California officer...

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (AP) - UPDATE 8/14/2019 12:14 p.m. Bells tolled Wednesday during a solemn California Highway Patrol ceremony for an officer killed when a motorist he pulled over for a traffic stop grabbed a rifle and opened fire in a shooting rampage that wounded two more officers.

The tribute for Andre Moye, Jr. at the highway patrol's academy in the city of West Sacramento replaced the agency's plan to celebrate its 90th anniversary, the highway patrol said in a statement.

Authorities were still investigating what prompted Aaron Luther, 49, to shoot Moye and the other officers.

Moye had stopped Luther on a freeway in the Southern California city of Riverside on Monday, and officials have said he probably did not know that Luther had a long and violent criminal history.

"It's obvious something triggered him to do this," said Riverside police Officer Ryan Railsback. "We don't know what that is."

One of the wounded officers was still hospitalized Wednesday with what were described as critical injuries to one of his legs, though officials said he was alert and in stable condition. The other wounded officer was released earlier.

Moye, a motorcycle officer, was on a freeway overpass filling out paperwork to impound Luther's pickup truck when Luther, who was outside the vehicle and not restrained, pulled a rifle from the truck and started shooting.

Moye, 34, was fatally wounded but called for help and two responding officers were shot in the legs while frightened motorists ducked for cover from dozens of flying bullets.

Officials have said public records showing peoples' criminal history are not typically something officers have access to during traffic stops.

Highway patrol Inland Division Chief Bill Dance said it was not clear whether Moye asked a dispatcher for additional information about Luther, 49, who was convicted of attempted murder in 1994 and also had convictions for assault, domestic violence, unlawful possession of a firearm and battery.

Railsback said authorities searched Luther's Beaumont home on Tuesday but he did not know anything was seized.

John Aresta, police chief in Malverne, New York, and a past president of the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police, said officers have almost no way of knowing drivers' criminal history during traffic stops.

When officers request information about a vehicle license plate number, a report usually comes back listing the vehicle's registered owner, if it's been reported stolen and if the license has been suspended or revoked. For checks of driver's licenses, Aresta said active arrest warrants may be available but "it's not going to come up with a criminal history and it's not going to come with an asterisk saying 'bad guy,'" Aresta said.

Luther had a warrant dating from 2017 after he failed to appear in court to answer a misdemeanor charge of driving with a suspended or revoked license.

A warrant like that "doesn't necessarily mean you're going to jail in handcuffs," Railsback said.

Luther was paroled from state prison in 2004 after serving about 10 years of a 12-year sentence for attempted second-degree murder with an enhancement for the use of a firearm, first-degree burglary and second-degree burglary, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Court records show Luther also was arrested in 2007 on felony assault charges and took a no-contest plea deal that sentenced him to 90 days in jail. He also was charged with multiple felonies in San Bernardino County and pleaded no contest in 2010 to assault with a deadly weapon, according to the Southern California News Group.

As a felon, Luther was not supposed to have a gun and his father, Dennis Luther, said he's not sure how his son came to possess one. He said his son had struggled with drugs, was depressed and in pain from knee injuries that left him unable to work his construction job.

 

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UPDATE 8/13/2019 1:15 p.m. The CHP along with the Riverside County Sheriff's Office and Riverside police held a press conference Tuesday afternoon to issue an update on an officer-involved shooting that killed one CHP officer and left two others injured.

The CHP said that Officer Andrew Moye, Jr. conducted a traffic stop on a highway in Riverside. He was impounding a pickup truck, and then officers said the suspect, 49-year-old Aaron Luther, got a rifle from his truck and assaulted Moye.

Moye was able to put out a call for assistance, and three more CHP officers along with Riverside County Sheriff's deputies and Riverside police officers responded to his call. The suspect died in the shootout that followed.

Moye had serious injuries and was Life Lighted to a hospital, but he died of his injuries. Two other CHP officers were injured as well. A 6 year veteran with CHP had a minor leg injury, and a 4 year veteran with CHP had major injuries to his leg. He was in critical condition, but is now conscious and talking. The CHP said the officer is expected to recover.

Investigators are still working to learn more about what led up to the shooting and what Luther's motivation was.

Jeffrey Callison, a spokesman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, said Aaron Luther was sentenced to 12 years in prison for attempted second-degree murder and an enhancement for the use of a firearm, as well as burglary charges. He began his sentence in 1994 and was paroled in April 2004.

Court records show Luther was arrested in 2007 on felony assault charges and took a no-contest plea deal that sentenced him to 90 days in jail. He also was arrested in 2017 on suspicion of driving while his license was suspended or revoked, records show.

As a felon, Luther was not supposed to have a gun and his father said he's not sure how his son came to possess one.

 

UPDATE 8/13/2019 8:12 a.m. A man whose truck was being impounded suddenly grabbed a rifle and opened fire, killing a California Highway Patrol officer and wounding two others before he was killed, authorities said.

Other drivers ran for cover and two people were slightly injured as dozens of bullets flew shortly after 5:30 p.m. Monday just off a freeway in Riverside, east of Los Angeles.

"We don't know his motive for this crime," Riverside Police Chief Sergio Diaz said. Investigators were still gathering evidence at the scene Tuesday morning.

KABC-TV reported that a man identified the shooter as his son, Aaron Luther, 49, of neighboring Beaumont.

A CHP officer was doing paperwork to impound the pickup truck when the man reached in, grabbed a rifle and fatally wounded the officer, authorities said.

The officer was identified as Andrew Moye, Jr.

"I am devastated by the tragedy that unfolded earlier in Riverside. Tonight, I mourn the loss of one of our own," CHP Commissioner Warren Stanley said in a tweet.

Family members said Moye was 33 and had been with the CHP for about four years.

"He was so kind," his stepmother, Debbie Howard, told KTVU-TV. "You're not going to hear one bad word about him. He loved this job."

Two other CHP officers were wounded, one critically, as officers from several agencies fought the man.

"It was a long and horrific gun battle," the chief said.

Dennis Luther of Riverside said he watched the shootout on television.

"It's hard. I love him. And I'm sorry for the policeman," he told KABC-TV. "I'm devastated. I just can't believe it."

Luther said his son served prison time for attempted murder but was released more than a decade ago. He says he doesn't know what his son was doing with a gun as a felon, which is illegal.

After his truck was impounded, Aaron Luther called his wife to pick him up, his father said.

When she arrived, the tow truck was there.

"She said she heard 'pop, pop, pop' ... gunfire, and then a bullet went through the windshield of her car," Luther said of his son's wife.

The father said his son recently seemed depressed, was having knee pain and marital problems but was devoted to his two children and a stepchild.

"He lived for his kids. That's what motivated him," Luther said. "So I don't know what overcame him. I mean, I wish I did know."

Two people received superficial injuries and "they're going to be OK." Parker said.

Jennifer Moctezuma, 31, of Moreno Valley told the Los Angeles Times that she was driving home with her 6-year-old twins when a bullet flew through her front windshield.

Charles Childress, 56, a retired Marine from Moreno Valley, was in the car behind her.

He led the family as they crawled to the bottom of a bridge to hide and none were harmed, the Times reported.

"He's my hero," Moctezuma said.

Authorities did not immediately say what prompted the officer to stop and impound the truck. Investigators didn't immediately know where the gunman came from or where he was headed, Diaz said.

Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered flags at half-staff Tuesday in the state Capitol.

"Our hearts ache over the tragic loss," Newsom said on Twitter.

After the shooting, dozens of law enforcement officers gathered outside of the hospital in nearby Moreno Valley. Snipers were posted on the roof as a precaution.

Dozens lined up and saluted as the officer's flag-draped body was removed from the hospital and placed in a hearse. Motorcycle officers then led a procession as the hearse was driven to the county coroner's office.

PREVIOUS STORY- Police say a shootout near a freeway has killed a California Highway Patrol officer, wounded two others and left the gunman dead.

A shooter opened fire during Monday just off Interstate 215 in Riverside, east of Los Angeles.

Riverside police spokesman Ryan Railsback says a CHP officer had stopped a white pickup truck when the driver pulled a rifle.

Three officers were hit. The CHP tweeted that one officer died.

The gunman was pronounced dead at a hospital.

Railsback also says someone in another car was hit by glass that caused minor injuries.

Video from the scene shows bullet holes in the front windows of two patrol cars and large holes blown in their back windows. What appeared to be an assault-style rifle was on the ground.


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