BY JASON KOTOWSKI Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
A series of events including a convenience store robbery and a devastating crash culminated with a shooting southwest of Arvin in which a man opened fire on a suspect who had just assaulted his father and stolen a shotgun, sheriff's officials reported.
The suspect was airlifted to Kern Medical Center in critical condition, Kern County sheriff's spokesman Ray Pruitt said. The man he's accused of assaulting suffered minor to moderate injuries.
Pruitt said deputies received a report about 11 a.m. Friday of an armed robbery at a convenience store in Mettler. Witnesses described the suspects as two Hispanic men who left in a purple car.
About 15 minutes later, a crash was reported involving two vehicles on North Rancho Drive near Teale Road. Pruitt said both vehicles flipped several times and were totaled.
California Highway Patrol officers responded, as did a deputy who was headed to the store in Mettler, who came upon the crash and noticed one of the vehicles involved was a purple car matching the description of the suspect vehicle, Pruitt said. The driver of that car had run from the crash east into a grape vineyard.
Pruitt said more deputies and a sheriff's helicopter responded to search the surrounding area. At 12:28 p.m. they received a call of shots fired at a residence in the 1600 block of Teale Road, about a half-mile east of the crash.
The helicopter was in the area and those aboard witnessed the shooting.
Pruitt said the driver of the purple car had run through the vineyard and at one point entered a canal. He removed his clothing after getting out of the canal and walked toward one of the houses on a large piece of property on Teale Road.
The suspect entered the house and was confronted by an elderly man, Pruitt said. The two men struggled over a shotgun that was in the house, and the suspect assaulted the man and took the gun.
The suspect then entered a truck parked on the property and the son of the man who'd just been assaulted left another house on the property armed with a shotgun of his own, according to Pruitt. He approached the suspect.
The suspect raised his shotgun and the son opened fire, striking the suspect as he sat in the driver's seat of the truck, Pruitt said.
Law enforcement stayed hours afterward collecting evidence and trying to determine if a second suspect had been in the purple car.
Pruitt said the driver of the other vehicle involved in the crash suffered minor injuries, and her infant child who was also in the vehicle was uninjured.
The driver of the purple car has not been positively identified as being involved in the robbery, but investigators believe he's the robbery suspect, Pruitt said.
One of the market owners declined comment early Friday evening because the store was too busy.