Emergency recording released: CHP officer calm under fire

Emergency recording released: CHP officer calm under fire »Play Video
A photo released Tuesday, July 17, 2012, shows bullet holes in a California Highway Patrol cruiser after an officer was targeted May 6 in a drive-by on Highway 178 near Borel Road in Kern County. (Photo from the CHP)

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — A California Highway Patrol officer who had just been shot twice can be heard telling backup he's OK. Recordings of emergency radio calls were released Tuesday night by the CHP, as officers ask the public to help track down three suspects wanted for the attack on one of their own May 6 near Lake Isabella.

Newly released photos also show a number of bullet holes in the officer's patrol car, and inside the vehicle there appears to be blood and a lot of shattered glass.

"I've been shot twice. The suspect vehicle is a blue Yukon with 24-inch wheels. It has bullet holes on the driver's side," the officer can be heard telling a dispatcher.

The officer has not been identified by the department. Just after the incident, Eyewitness News was told the officer had been treated at a hospital and released.

Investigators said the CHP officer was alone in his patrol car at the side of Highway 178, west of Lake Isabella. He was using radar to watch for speeders. The suspect vehicle reportedly went by, but then slowed and made a U-turn. The SUV then came back, going east in the westbound lanes, and a passenger fired at the officer.

CHP Assistant Chief Brian Smith had reported the officer had ducked down to his right and pulled his weapon. Smith said the officer came back up, and was hit by gunfire.

The officer can be heard on the call describing the exchange, while more patrols cars are being sent his way.

"Tell units to slow down," the officer says on the radio. "One of the shots went into my vest and one into my hand. Neither are life-threatening."

The assistant chief had described the injuries and said it was lucky the officer had on his bulletproof vest.

"He was shot in the hand, and dead center shot right in the center of his chest," Smith had reported. "Thank God he was wearing his vest."

The Kern County Sheriff's Office is leading the search for the suspects. By May 9, a composite sketch was released of the suspected shooter. He's described as an Hispanic man, muscular build, in his 20s, wearing a light-colored tank top. The injured officer had immediately described the shooter.

"I returned fire," the CHP officer is heard saying on the recording. "The shooter was in the back, driver's side. He was wearing a wife-beater T-shirt. I'm pretty sure I struck at least once or twice."

The suspected driver of the SUV has also been described as an Hispanic man, probably in his 20s, and wearing a white cowboy hat and button-up shirt. Investigators have described the car as a dark blue Chevy Tahoe or GMC Yukon with 24-inch chrome rims and low profile tires.

Officers believe the car's left rear cargo window was shot out, and it possibly has bullet holes on the left side.

The CHP officer who'd been attacked tried to go after the SUV immediately, but couldn't.

"My vehicle is out of commission with a flat tire," the officer had told his backup. "I tried to follow the suspect, but I'm out of commission at Borel Road."

Anyone with information on the suspects is encouraged to call the CHP, or the Kern County Sheriff's Office at (661) 861-3110. Or, information can be left anonymously by calling Secret Witness at 322-4040.

The Bakersfield CHP office said they released the new information, noting the radio calls show "the officer's request for assistance and his relatively calm demeanor in the midst of a life-threatening situation."

Officers hope more information will come in.

"The suspect vehicle and the three suspects including the shooter have not been located," reads the CHP statement on Tuesday. "We continue to seek the public's assistance in bringing these individuals to justice."