Death From Above: Police Sniper Fatally Shoots Wrong-Way Driver from Helicopter

A sheriff’s deputy stopped a suspected home invader who was leading authorities on a high-speed chase last Friday when he opened fire on the suspect from a helicopter.

From NBC Los Angeles:

It wasn’t immediately clear whether the man had been wounded by gunfire or died from other injuries, San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Deputy Deon Filer said.

Deputies began pursuing the robbery suspect from the Fontana area east of Los Angeles around midday, authorities said.

The gray Chevrolet Yukon reached speeds of 100 mph as it raced along streets and traveled southbound in the northbound lanes of Interstate 215 into San Bernardino, sideswiping a car, authorities said.

The wrong-way driving prompted a deputy to open fire on the SUV from a helicopter.

“It’s a public-safety issue,” Deputy Olivia Bozek said. “Once he starts going the wrong way, obviously he doesn’t care about passengers or pedestrians or other cars that are around.”

Investigators said it is rare of deputies to shoot from a helicopter, but San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies are trained to do so, particularly if the suspect poses a threat to public safety.

The driver then bailed out of the vehicle, which kept rolling and crashed head-on into a Dodge Durango. Three people in that SUV were injured and taken to hospitals, officials said.

One of the passengers in the SUV, a woman, suffered a fractured rib, and the other two suffered minor injuries. The victims were transported to Loma Linda University Medical Center where the female victim underwent surgery, according to the victim’s family.

The fleeing driver continued along the freeway until he collapsed a short distance away near an overpass. He died at the scene.

About the author: S.H. Blannelberry is the News Editor of GunsAmerica.

{ 33 comments… add one }
  • Steve Harmon September 30, 2015, 8:56 pm

    “Died at the scene”, ahhh music to my ears when it comes to criminals, woo hoo!!!!

  • EvilD September 29, 2015, 8:02 pm

    “It’s a public-safety issue,” Deputy Olivia Bozek said. “Once he starts going the wrong way, obviously he doesn’t care about passengers or pedestrians or other cars that are around.”
    What did the sniper think would happen with an SUV travelling at high speed with a dead man in the driver seat? A bit hypocritical right?

  • Janus September 29, 2015, 4:10 pm

    There are not enough details to evaluate this situation,
    first of all it is a very serious event for the police to shoot a “suspected” criminal from the air,
    this is very much a paramilitary operation and an escalation of police power and the use of deadly force upon civilians,
    how about if the next escalation they start shooting civilians from planes with automatic fire? Would you feel comfortable with that? Do you remember the event in southern California where a black policeman went on a shooting spree, and the police in their excitement to kill him (he was killing fellow police officers) literally shot the hell out of numerous civilians in their vehicles, misidentifying them?
    What exactly do the police mean by a suspect? Haven’t we seen the abuse of power with things like the so-called Patriot Act that gave the government the right to arrest you/shoot you pretty much at there discretion?
    And how about the possibility of collateral damage-if the driver was endangering other cars then there was certainly traffic-were they really justified in taking this risk? Can you imagine the mayhem that could have ensued from drivers on the freeway, seeing a helicopter pursuing and shooting at a car that is btw driving in the wrong lane?
    As a shooter I applaud the shot, but frankly I think they were lucky they didn’t cause more mayhem,
    the police cannot be trusted in their reports until they have been thoroughly examined by other departments that are more objective,
    I firmly object to police departments carrying out these paramilitary operations on civilians! This is the slow boiling frog scenario-you are being brought into the Police State mentality little by little, as you continue to allow this kinda of creeping militarism of police forces

  • UncleNat September 29, 2015, 12:16 pm

    I can’t help but feel for the poor folks who were nearly killed because of the LEO’s decision to shoot at that moment. Sorry, it was a poor judgement call.

  • Tom Horn September 29, 2015, 6:11 am

    Well, this is a sticky wicket, isn’t it. William is right, we don’t shoot home invasion suspects in the U.S.A., unless they’re in your home, threatening you. So, it only boils down to the issue of endangering lives, which I am sure was the criteria used by the sheriff officers in making the decision to use lethal force.

    That being said, do we shoot every confused, mentally ill, drunk, or senile individual that turns the wrong way down a one way road, and then endangers lives. Seems we could develop a safer, less lethal means of stopping fleeing suspects. Could the helicopter have flown ahead and dropped tire disabling devices?

  • ch September 28, 2015, 5:52 pm

    What do you think about using an RPG or a grenade with a magnet on(dropped on the vehicle) it so the vehicle can’t roll any farther?

  • ch September 28, 2015, 5:52 pm

    What do you think about using an RPG or a grenade with a magnet on(dropped on the vehicle) it so the vehicle can’t roll any farther?

  • BR549 September 28, 2015, 2:52 pm

    Let’s see if I have this right; ………. car going down the road the wrong way; suspect injures people.

    versus …… ‘car going down the road the wrong way; suspect shot, car still moving; injures people. What am I missing here?

    I did notice the human dildo in the blue shirt making another LEO fashion statement. I hope he wasn’t trying to go undercover.

  • Mike A. Nielsen September 28, 2015, 1:12 pm

    This was a Very bias headline used for this article.
    This was a home-invasion robbery (felony) suspect, not simply a traffic violation.
    Poor research by the editor or another attempt at gun bashing?

  • Jake September 28, 2015, 1:02 pm

    This should not be tolerated. The taking of a life in this way. There are so many bad outcomes here. What if he is the wrong man? What if he, after being shot, plows into another car and kills the occupants? This is all judgement before the trial! And of course the cops will never be charged if they kill the wrong person, or causes harm to others!

    At least the cops can’t claim they were threatened! Bad all the way around!

  • Snubby September 28, 2015, 12:46 pm

    Filter – Hey Man Nice Shot
    “That’s why I say hey man – nice shot. What a nice shot man.”

  • Mickey Rat September 28, 2015, 12:17 pm

    Excellent response by the police. If suspect is fleeing police in a vehicle and endangering the public then use of deadly force should be used. After a few car chases are terminated (pun intended), car chases will reduce or stop. Fleeing police at high speed in city areas should have a mandatory 10 year sentence. Little Johnny freaked out after stealing mom’s car? 10 years will give him time to mature and regret his mistakes.

    Don’t want it to happen to you? Then pull over.

  • William September 28, 2015, 11:34 am

    Death penalty for a traffic violation – That is a little on the strict side, isn’t it?
    You remove any rights or property that person ever had, or will have for a traffic infringement.
    Sorry, guys – that does not compute. I would think that would fall under…
    “….nor be deprived of life, liberty or property, without due process of law;” (5th Amendment)
    “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”
    (9th amendment)

    • Marcel September 28, 2015, 12:15 pm

      Guess you didn’t read very first sentence about him being a suspected home invader. This man was not shot over a simple traffic violation. YOU are part of the problem here. Quoting the constitution but having no idea what it means.

      BTW genius, that last amendment you cut and paste is the 8th, not the 9th amendment.

      • Early September 28, 2015, 2:23 pm

        Actually William is still correct…I missed the part where the suspect was convicted of a home invasion. I see the conclusion of the facts drawn through closure. Expedited justice without due process is repugnant to the constitution. Pro-gunners who lean so heavily on constitution should not take other parts lightly because it does not fit the narrative of the mob. He is entitled to due process.

      • William September 28, 2015, 2:56 pm

        “suspect” is the word, thus:
        “….nor be deprived of life, liberty or property, without due process of law;” (5th Amendment)

        What if, by chance, this was a case of mistaken identity? You killed an innocent person.
        What if, by chance, this person was the getaway driver being forced at gunpoint?
        what if, by chance… you should get the point by now.

        Police have been using deadly force to stop a fleeing (probable) felon for the past 2 decades. This is one of the reasons why police shootings have gone up considerably.

        The problem is that too many people automatically think the police are judge, jury and executioner. Some of y’all watched to many “Dirty Harry” movies.
        I guess I am a “the problem” because I think that a person should be tried before they are executed.

        • Mike September 29, 2015, 6:15 pm

          So if he ran over your family in this process your ok with knowing he could have been stopped? Yea I’m sure you would sorry I asked

      • D. September 28, 2015, 10:57 pm

        Sorry Marcel, the guy was SUSPECTED of home invasion, NOT convicted! And in this case , as in so many others, this is exactly the shooting of the driver which caused injuries here NOT the driver! This IS THE FACT. You must be extremely irresponsible to shut to kill a driver who is driving with 100mph an SUV on the wrong way! It is like shooting a bomb in a theater full of people. Irresponsible and sadistic. just another “happy- trigger idiot”. And another lame excuse and dangerous for regular people, precedent from the part of Police which is going away with another crime. Sorry for the good Police officers who I strongly believe exists in any Police department in this country, but this kind of irresponsible actions are completely unacceptable.

      • Les Lannom June 2, 2017, 6:03 pm

        By the way, “genius,” do you not know what the term, “suspected,” means? Hint: it doesn’t mean “convicted.”

    • Moron Patrol September 28, 2015, 12:24 pm

      You’re a retard, it wasn’t a traffic violation, he had just committed a violent home invasion robbery, which prompted the pursuit

      • William September 28, 2015, 3:01 pm

        Way to go! Name calling because you do not agree with someone.
        Way to show off your intelligence.
        You must learn everything from MSNBC. Not to mention the slur against people with mental slowness or mental issues. You are a Peach! (not so much)

    • Vernon September 28, 2015, 12:44 pm

      William I think you missed the initial reason for the chase he was a home invasion robbery suspect actively fleeing apprehension, not just a wrong way driver.

      • mark September 28, 2015, 3:36 pm

        Not to mention that HE WAS DRIVING IN THE WRONG DIRECTION ON A FREEWAY! All he needs to do at that point is be there and someone will be killed in a head-on. Basically, he was committing Assault with a Deadly Weapon, i.e, his vehicle. Simply put, he HAD to be stopped ASAP.

        • William September 28, 2015, 5:18 pm

          If you say, ” Basically, he was committing Assault with a Deadly Weapon, i.e, his vehicle.” Does that mean I can open fire on Id10Ts who pull into my lane when I am on my motorcycle? How about when someone is texting and coming right at me on a 2 lane highway? (both have happened to me in the last 24 hours)

          If that is the case, the highways are going to be a blood-bath.

          • Bill September 28, 2015, 6:31 pm

            William, you know you are off base. He posed an imminent threat to the lives of all the other people traveling the correct direction and had already side-swiped one. This wasn’t a simple “oh shit … I made a mistake” moment. If that was all it was, then he could have pulled off to the side and turned around to match the flow of traffic. It was an “oh shit, the cops are chasing me!” moment and an attempt at evading arrest that put others in dire danger.

            I’m going to assume, for the moment, that the officer had a rifle of sufficient caliber to disable the engine of that vehicle.

            Did you happen to notice where in that vehicle the engine was located?

            Defend people when they are in the right. This guy wasn’t even close.

    • Doc Loch September 28, 2015, 2:52 pm

      Sorry, William, I have to disagree. This is not a only a traffic violation. This is a life-threatening situation where some one is trying to kill people using a 2 ton motor vehicle traveling at 70+ mph. There are many unnecessary police shootings, but this is not one of them. Why is it that if some one points a gun at you, you feel you should shoot, but when someone barrels toward you with a deadly vehicle and no thought for your safety and maybe even intent on killing, you feel it is unjust for this low-life to live and cause other immediate damage and put at high risk of death, a productive good person (we generally call them innocent persons)? I think you may be subject to this strange idea that just because someone is in a vehicle they can’t threaten the life of another, and even if they did it would be road-rage to resist it! I get more and more amazed at this society’s twisted and faulty logic.

  • Dave B September 28, 2015, 10:49 am

    Sheriff’s Deputy Deon Filer is an excellent shot. Congratulations.

  • Cicero September 28, 2015, 10:15 am

    The article doesn’t give details on the weapon used, including caliber. For airborne shooting at vehicles, wouldn’t a good choice be a .308 semi auto, like an M1A, and have the shots aimed at the engine area, which would stop the vehicle?

  • Lying Bastard September 28, 2015, 6:31 am

    Brazilians do not seem to have an issue shooting criminals off a helicopter

  • Kenny G. September 28, 2015, 5:36 am

    If you have a basket case that is willing to drive down the wrong way on a major highway then I support deadly force. What if he had hit a bus load of children or senior citizens ? Sometimes you have to Take a life to save many !

  • DRAINO September 24, 2015, 8:12 am

    That seems to be the popular thing to do here in Atlanta…..the wrong way driving thing. I don’t know why, but we have had that happen several times of the past few years. Unfortunately, most weren’t dispatched before they killed someone else. And I really don’t get the whole “I got confused” excuse. Not that I agree with shooting people for traffic infringements…..but blazing down the wrong way of I-75/85….is never a good outcome.

    • Michael E. Hensley September 28, 2015, 1:37 pm

      40 years ago was the last time I was on the I-75/85 in Atlanta and then it did not seem a sane thing to be going the correct direction, I shudder to think what it is like now.

      • Bill September 28, 2015, 6:22 pm

        It’s 60 lanes wide now (each way) and still a hairy piece of road during rush hour. Not TOO bad at 4 am, but the traffic starts picking up by 4:30.

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