CHP Officer dies in gun battle in Riverside

UPDATE: At least one of the CHP officers has passed away.

RIVERSIDE — Three California Highway Patrol officers were seriously wounded and a gunman killed in a wild shootout Monday evening off the 215 Freeway in Riverside County that had motorists dodging bullets.

The conditions of the officers was unknown but one was airlifted in a hospital, according to the Riverside police department. The incident appears to have started as a traffic stop. At one point, the gunman opened fire, said Riverside police spokesman Ryan Railsback.

“We don’t know why. That is all going to be part of this lengthy investigation,” he said.

“Please say some prayers for the CHP officers involved,” wrote state Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez (D-Lake Elsinore) on Twitter.

Jennifer Moctezuma, 31, of Moreno Valley, was driving home with her 6-year-old twins when a bullet flew through her front windshield.

Retired Marine Charles Childress, 56, of Moreno Valley, was in the car behind them, when he heard gunfire and saw the bullet that went through Moctezuma’s windshield.

He then heard the children screaming and knew he had to get the family out of the car in front of him.

“I was 21 years in the Marine Corps, and my training just kicked in,” Childress said.

Childress led Moctezuma and her two children, all of whom were unharmed, as they crawled down to the bottom of the bridge away from the gunfire.

“He’s my hero,” Moctezume said. “He’s my hero.”

A California Highway Patrol dispatcher said the department responded to reports of gunfire but could not provide details. A Riverside County Fire Department dispatcher said the agency was requested to respond to Box Springs Boulevard and Eastridge Avenue.

CHP cruisers, fire engines, and ambulances were on the 215 Freeway at Box Springs.

The freeway was closed, and Caltrans was urging people to avoid the area. Metrolink said the tracks near the incident have also been shut down and that trains have been diverted.

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