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The Region

Deputies Shoot, Wound Fleeing Man

August 18, 2003|Holly J. Wolcott | Times Staff Writer

A 26-year-old man was shot several times by two Ventura County sheriff's deputies Saturday night after allegedly fleeing an attempted traffic stop in Moorpark and then running from deputies when his motorcycle crashed.

Chris Welch underwent surgery and was in stable condition Sunday night at St. John's Regional Medical Center in Oxnard, where he was airlifted after being shot about 10 p.m. Saturday, according to Sheriff's Sgt. Ron Nelson.

Authorities declined to release specific information about what prompted the deputies to fire at Welch, or exactly how many times he was shot. But Nelson said Sunday that the deputies feared for their lives.

"It's still being investigated, but he made some sort of movement or displayed something, a weapon of some nature," Nelson said. "He wasn't just running and the police shot him."

Nelson said Welch made a threatening gesture but declined to say what, if any, evidence of a weapon was found on or near him. Welch was conscious and alert as he was being flown to the hospital, Nelson said.

The two deputies, whose names were not released, have each been on the force more than two years, Nelson said. They both worked in the jail system and then were transferred to patrol duties, he said.

The deputies, both of whom fired several times, were interviewed after the shooting and placed on paid administrative leave -- standard procedure in officer-involved shootings. They will be on leave for a minimum of three days, Nelson said.

Saturday night, the deputies had been patrolling Moorpark together when Welch allegedly committed a traffic violation on his motorcycle on Spring Road near Los Angeles Avenue.

When Welch failed to stop for the deputies, they pursued him for less than half a mile, Nelson said. Welch lost control and crashed at the intersection of Spring Road and Tierra Rejada Road, Nelson said.

Welch jumped over a guardrail on the south side of Tierra Rejada Road, fell about 15 feet and then took off running through a large farm field, Nelson said. After he was shot, Welch tried to hide in a drainage ditch but was found, Nelson said.

Authorities did not say why Welch may have fled. Ventura County Superior Court records show he has several criminal convictions, including for exhibiting a deadly weapon, trespassing and petty theft.

Saturday's incident was the fifth deputy-involved shooting in Ventura County this year. Three were fatal.

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