Authorities ask the public to speak up on what led a man to wound his neck before driving through southeast Madera brandishing a handgun Monday and pointing it at a cop, who shot his shoulder.
Suspect Saul Santana, 39, was taken to a Fresno hospital “where he was in surgery fairly early last night,” said Madera Police Chief Steve Frazier during a press conference this morning. Now in stable condition, he was expected to fully recover.
“I honestly think that his intent was for us to end his life,” Frazier said. “He had an opportunity to fire a gun. I would think he chose not to” do so.
The name of the officer involved in the shooting was not released, but will be after he is interviewed Wednesday about the incident. In the meantime, “he’s on days off at this point.”
“It is a very traumatic event to shoot at someone,” Frazier said. “We’re incredibly thankful that we did not take a life. That Mr. Santana will be okay. But nonetheless, having pulled that trigger and having a gun pointed at you is an incredibly difficult thing to handle.”
Madera police received a call around 4:45 p.m. Monday about someone driving in a white truck with a knife to his neck, Frazier said. Police found and followed the truck without sirens or flashing lights, and an officer spotted a handgun in the suspect’s hand, rather than a blade.
According to Police Lt. Giachino Chiaramonte, the truck continued at 5-15 mph to C Street, just south of 14th Street.
The suspect stopped just as police turned on their sirens, Frazier said. “He steps out. He points a handgun at our officers and (one of) our officer(s) fires five rounds, striking him one time in the left shoulder.”
Police performed first aid on the suspect and discovered a deep, seemingly self-inflicted cut to his throat, Chiaramonte said.
Frazier released a dashboard camera video Tuesday that showed the slow-moving truck come to a stop at 5:07 p.m. Monday and a man exiting before aiming a gun, which Frazier said was a bloody Smith & Wesson 9 mm.
“It’s important for us to make sure that our citizens are aware that our justification (for the shooting) is a direct response to the individual’s actions,” Frazier said.
The suspect “has a fairly extensive criminal background,” according to Frazier, including an eight-year prison sentence in 2002 following his conviction for a Northern California car jacking with a handgun, as well as miscellaneous drug charges.
It is not known if Santana was under the influence of any substance during the incident, but Frazier said there were “no objective signs of any alcohol.”
Those with information on Santana may call Madera police at 675-4200.’