Suspects in police shooting linked to stolen vehicle ring

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Associated Press

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- Two women believed to be part of a stolen car ring led California police on a 20-mile chase Wednesday before pointing them to a Sacramento hotel where another suspect opened fire with an assault rifle in a shootout that left one officer dead and two others wounded, authorities said.

Deputy Robert French, a 21-year veteran of the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department, died on the way to a hospital from a gunshot wound to his side, Sheriff Scott Jones said.

The two wounded California Highway Patrol officers were expected to survive. Their names have not been released.

The gunman was arrested after he was wounded during a short car chase, authorities said. Police did not name him or the two women.

Authorities spent hours searching the hotel before determining there were no other suspects inside.

"It was an extremely dynamic, horrific series of events," Jones said.

Officers initially went to the hotel during an investigation by an auto theft task force -- a joint project among departments.

The chase occurred after they spotted a gray Dodge Charger they thought had been stolen.

Police say they learned while apprehending the women that one had a room at the hotel. Officers returned and knocked on the door of a room to investigate.

Authorities say a man inside opened fire then left through the back, where he shot French and fled in a vehicle. Pursuing officers exchanged fire with the man, who was hit, sheriff's spokesman Tony Turnbull said.

The gun used by the man held a high-capacity magazine, which are now illegal to purchase in California, authorities said.

Jeff Marshall, who lives near the hotel, said he heard gunshots and then tires squealing and saw a gray Dodge Charger speed by his home, going the wrong way down a busy street.

Marshall estimated he heard 12 shots.

"It was like the wild West," Marshall said.

The sheriff described French, 52, as a well-known, well-respected training officer assigned to patrol the county's northern areas.

He was a "go-to guy for advice and counsel, not just career advice but tactical advice and things like that," Jones said.

French is survived by his live-in girlfriend, adult children and grandchildren and a sister.

"Words aren't going to make an appropriate appreciation of him as a man or his career," Jones said.