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Multiple Gunmen Target CA Officer

Multiple Gunmen Target CA Officer

Contra Costa Times via YellowBrix

July 26, 2011

MORAGA, CA — An East Bay Regional Park District police officer had to be rescued Monday after he was shot at by multiple people while on patrol in a rugged area of park lands near Moraga and Canyon, police said.

The officer called dispatch about 7 p.m. asking for help after he said he was fired upon by assailants with automatic rifles. Police said he returned fire but it was unclear whether he struck anyone.

Officers from Moraga, Lafayette and the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office were summoned to safely retrieve the officer and search for the gunmen.

With the help of an armored car the officer was rescued uninjured, park district police Capt. Mark Ruppenthal said.

Authorities continued to search with helicopters for the suspects, but called off the search when darkness fell. Camino Pablo in Moraga was shut down and Rancho Laguna Park evacuated during the operation.

Ruppenthal said police suspect the shooters may have been protecting some sort of drug-growing operation in the hills, but he had no idea of its magnitude.

“The area has a history of marijuana grows in the area. We have recovered marijuana grows out there in previous years,” Ruppenthal said. “The officer was patrolling back there, one thing he does look for is active marijuana grows.”

A search for suspects and evidence of drug activity in the area was expected to continue at daybreak.

Staff writer Robert Salonga and KGO-TV contributed to this story.

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