SACRAMENTO — Two undercover California Highway Patrol officers who were shot Wednesday during a deadly gun battle with an armed suspect are recovering from their wounds, officials said.
The officers, whose names were not released, were assisting with a stolen vehicle investigation when they were struck by gunfire, according to the CHP. Deputy Robert “Bob” French, a 21-year veteran of the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department, was also shot and died on the way to the hospital.
One of the officers was shot in his shoulder and released Tuesday night from a hospital. The other officer was struck in his hand and wrist, the CHP said. He underwent surgery Thursday morning and is recovering.
Meanwhile, the investigation into the deadly shooting continued Thursday.
The Sheriff’s Department identified the suspect, who was also shot by officers, as Thomas Daniel Littlecloud, a 32-year-old Castro Valley resident.
Littlecloud initially wasn’t the focus of Wednesday’s stolen vehicle investigation, which started just after 9:30 a.m. in the parking lot of a Ramada Inn on Auburn Boulevard.
Members of a Sacramento County auto theft task force were monitoring the hotel after they found a stolen vehicle in the parking lot, sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Tony Turnbull said.
They saw two women enter the vehicle and drive off, Turnbull said. When officers tried to stop the vehicle, the women led authorities on a pursuit that ended in Elk Grove, about 16 miles south of Sacramento.
Officers arrested Priscilla Prendez, 23, of Oakland and released the other woman, Turnbull said. Prendez was booked on suspicion of vehicle theft and felony evasion, authorities said.
Authorities discovered Prendez was on probation and had been staying at the hotel, Turnbull said, so officers returned to the hotel to search the room.
When officers arrived, he said, they knocked on the door and announced themselves. That’s when multiple shots were fired through hotel room door and walls, striking the CHP officers.
As sheriff’s deputies surrounded the hotel, Turnbull said, Littlecloud, armed with a high-powered assault rifle, tried to escape from the balcony.
“He engaged the deputies in gunfire, striking Deputy French during his attempt to flee,” Turnbull said in a statement.
French, 52, was shot in his side, and the bullet entered his chest cavity, authorities said.
Littlecloud then climbed off the balcony, jumped into a vehicle and led police on a pursuit that ended in a crash and an exchange of gunfire, authorities said.
He was shot and taken into custody, Turnbull said.
Littlecloud remained hospitalized Thursday with life-threatening injuries, the sergeant said.
The Sheriff’s Department’s Homicide Bureau and Professional Standards Division, along with the Sacramento County district attorney’s office and the county’s Office of Inspector General, are investigating.
Six deputies involved in the shooting will be placed on leave during the investigation.