Officer Opens Fire on Armed Man During Traffic Stop; Suspect Flees

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A parolee suspected of involvement in a drive-by shooting was at large Wednesday after he exited his vehicle on a Rialto street carrying a loaded assault rifle and was shot at by a police officer, authorities said.


Police were searching for Darnell White III on Wednesday, May 21, 2014, officials said. (Credit: Rialto Police Department)

The officer was in the area of Pepper and Etiwanda avenues (map) about 1:45 a.m. when he saw two vehicles traveling northbound on Pepper at a high rate of speed, according to a statement from the Rialto Police Department.

Believing the vehicles were involved in a road-rage incident, he initiated a traffic stop in the 900 block of East Mesa Drive (map), police said.

“One of drivers the got out of the vehicle, armed himself with a high-powered, fully loaded assault rifle, at which time the officer  feared for his life and fired multiple shots in his direction,” police Capt. Randy De Anda said.

It was not clear if or how the man was injured by the officer’s gunfire, De Anda said in an interview.

The driver, later identified as Darnell White III, left the weapon in the vehicle and ran into a nearby home, according to Sgt. Dave Shepherd, spokesman for the Police Department. The weapon was recovered at the scene, he said.

“The residence was contained, and the Inland Valley SWAT Team responded to the location,” the statement said. “A search of the residence revealed the suspect had fled.”

Police later said White had been living with relatives at the home.

White had been driving a maroon Nissan Altima and his current girlfriend was in a silver SUV when the officer tried to pull both vehicles over, police said later Wednesday afternoon.

A preliminary investigation indicated that White, who has an extensive criminal history, was possibly involved in a drive-by shooting Tuesday night in the Riverside County area, police said.

“We believe he’s responsible for that shooting. It turns out to be a former girlfriend,” De Anda said.

Shell casings matching the shooting were found inside White’s Altima, police said.

Authorities were actively searching for White, who was believed to be injured and should be considered armed and dangerous, according to police.

A perimeter was set up around two to three square blocks in Rialto, De Anda said.

Police helicopters were in the area searching from overhead as of 1 p.m. and dogs were helping officers searching on the ground.

The officer involved in the incident was a 12-year veteran of the department and was in “good spirits,” De Anda said.

Police planned to seek charges of attempted murder, being a felon in possession of a firearm and other charges against White, De Anda said.

Anyone with information was asked to call Rialto police Detective Rory Scalf at 909-421-4990.

KTLA’s Kareen Wynter and Melissa Pamer contributed to this article.