Deputy, suspect killed in California desert shootout

YUCCA VALLEY, Calif. (AP) — A Southern California sheriff’s deputy died after being shot by a suspect who was later killed in a shootout with deputies in a desert community east of Los Angeles, authorities said Tuesday.

The events unfolded Monday afternoon when deputies tried to pull over a motorcycle without a license plate near Yucca Valley, said San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon.

The motorcyclist sped away, ditched the bike and ran into open desert, McMahon said.

As deputies searched the area, the suspect opened fire on them, McMahon said. One deputy was shot and airlifted to a hospital, where he died, McMahon said.

He was identified as as Sergeant Dominic Vaca, 43.

“Our prayers are with him and his family as we all mourn in this difficult time,” McMahon said in a video statement.

McMahon said deputies found the gunman, who once again started shooting at them. Deputies returned fire and killed the suspect, who was not immediately identified.

A handgun was recovered at the scene, officials said.

Video tweeted by the sheriff’s department showed hospital staff, firefighters and law enforcement personnel standing at attention as Vaca’s flag-draped body was placed into a coroner’s van.

Vaca was a 17-year veteran of the department assigned to the sheriff’s department’s Morongo Basin station, about 120 miles (193 kilometers) east of downtown Los Angeles.

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