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MEDAL OF COURAGE: Pursuit of armed bank robber

MEDAL OF COURAGE: Pursuit of armed bank robber

On April 19, 2019 at approximately 3:50 p.m., a robbery occurred in Dana Point.  Deputies located the suspect vehicle, but lost sight of it during a high-speed pursuit.

About 20 minute later, Deputy Rivas spotted a vehicle matching the suspect’s vehicle on the 5 freeway.  He attempted to pull the vehicle over, but before Deputy Rivas could exit his vehicle, the suspect made a U-turn and sped into oncoming traffic.   The suspect then put his vehicle in reverse and rammed the front passenger side of the deputy’s vehicle.  While Deputy Rivas called for assistance, the suspect rammed his vehicle a second time. Based on the suspect’s violent actions and vehicle description, Deputy Rivas was confident he had found the bank robber and initiated a pursuit.   

In an attempt to elude capture, the suspect took off and started driving on the wrong side of the road and, at times, accelerated to speeds over 100 miles per hour. 

Deputy White was attempting to join the pursuit when he saw a muzzle flash inside the suspect’s vehicle.  He quickly realized the suspect was firing a weapon.  Deputy Rivas heard the muffled gunshots and immediately broadcasted “shots fired.”  Deputy White assumed the lead position in the pursuit, as Deputy Rivas was driving an unmarked patrol vehicle. 

Despite the risks, both deputies stayed in pursuit, putting their lives in danger.  The suspect continued to run red lights and travel at high rates of speed, often times pulling away from the pursuing deputies.  The suspect ultimately crashed his vehicle in the city of Rancho Santa Margarita.  

Deputies Rivas and White held their positions and attempted to conduct a felony car stop, but the incident came to an end when the suspect succumbed to a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The deputies received the Medal of Courage for their actions that day.