Sparks Officer Shoots, Kills Suspected Thief

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An undercover Sparks police officer in the gang unit shot and killed a 23-year-old suspect who tried to escape by ramming a police vehicle, Reno police said Wednesday.

The victim was a suspect in a recent theft at a sporting goods store and a string of car thefts. He also was wanted on an arrest warrant for domestic violence and battery with a deadly weapon, Reno Police Deputy Chief Jim Weston said.

The suspect had been under surveillance by gang unit officers and was being followed by undercover officers before the shooting shortly after 11 p.m. Tuesday in the parking lot of a Sparks convenience store, police said.

The officers tried to block the suspect's vehicle and gang unit officers wearing marked police raid jackets surrounded his car to try to avoid his escape when the suspect rammed the officers' car, Weston said.

"One Sparks police officer assigned to the gang unit fired at the suspect twice to stop his escape. The suspect died on scene," he said in a statement Wednesday.

A surveillance video camera at the 7/11 store on Prater Way and 15th Street apparently captured much of the incident, Weston said.

The name of the victim was being withheld pending notification of family. The name of the officer was being withheld for 24 hours according to department policy, Weston said.

KOLO-TV in Reno reported that the officer who shot the suspect is a seven-year veteran of the Sparks Police Department. He was placed on administrative leave pending a review of the shooting.

The Reno Police Department is handling the investigation and will turn its results over to the Washoe County district attorney's office for a review. The Reno Police Department operates the regional gang unit, which includes officers from Reno, Sparks and the Washoe County sheriff's office.

The fatal shooting is the second involving a law enforcement officer in Sparks this year.

Washoe County District Attorney Richard Gammick determined in June that a sheriff's deputy was justified in fatally shooting a 21-year-old man who dragged a security guard with his car when he fled a Sparks court appearance for disturbing the peace.

Gammick said Washoe County sheriff's deputy Luke Miller acted appropriately when he shot and killed Ian Dunwoodie of Sparks on Jan. 28.