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Published: Friday, 8/22/2014

Officer in critical condition after being shot, suspect killed in shootout in San Bernardino


SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. — A police officer shot and killed a gunman Friday during a shootout that began after another officer was gravely wounded during an early morning patrol in a San Bernardino neighborhood, authorities said.

The wounded officer, 31-year-old Gabriel Garcia, was rushed to a hospital in critical condition and underwent surgery for gunshot wounds to the upper body, police Chief Jarrod Burguan said. Garcia’s father is a captain with the department.

Gabriel Garcia was shot when he and his partner — who was in training and had been on the job for just two months — stopped to talk to a group of people standing outside a home on a cul de sac before 3 a.m., Burguan said.

One of the men pulled a gun and immediately opened fire as the officers approached, he said.

The officer was hit at least twice. His partner managed to shoot the gunman in a protracted gun battle during which numerous shots were fired, the chief said. The shooter, identified by police as Alex Alvarado, 38, died at a hospital.

It was unclear why the officers made contact with the group.

Gabriel Garcia is a highly commended, six-year veteran of the department who has spent much of his career on patrol duty and some time on a graffiti task force, Burguan said.

“He is exemplary in every sense of the word,” the chief said.

The officer in training was not hit during the gunfire. Given his level of experience, the younger officer’s response was exceptional, Burguan said.

“For all intents and purposes, he did a pretty remarkable job,” the chief said.

Five people were detained and questioned by detectives.

Jonathan Contreras, 20, of San Bernardino was arrested for investigation of possession of an assault rifle and possession of a sawed-off rifle, officials said. While Alvarado fired the weapons, they were in the possession of Contreras, the chief said.

Another man, 24-year-old Orlando Cruz, was arrested in connection with outstanding traffic warrants. Two women, 18 and 19, and a 30-year-old man were also questioned.

“We don’t know what their level of involvement is,” Burguan said.

The group had apparently met at a nightclub and gathered on the street after buying alcohol, officials said.

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