Crime - Sacto 911

Suspected car thief shot after crashing into Elk Grove officer

Sheriff's deputy explains shooting of auto-theft suspect

Sheriff's spokesman Deputy Tony Turnbull explains circumstances surrounding shooting of suspected auto thief.
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Sheriff's spokesman Deputy Tony Turnbull explains circumstances surrounding shooting of suspected auto thief.

An Elk Grove police officer shot and critically wounded a man Tuesday morning after authorities said the suspected auto thief crashed into him.

The incident began about 7:15 a.m. in Elk Grove when a thief got into a car that was being warmed up on the chilly morning and drove away. The victim, who had been inside the home, walked out to find his car gone.

The car theft victim got into another vehicle and went looking for the stolen car. He spotted it and called Elk Grove police.

The theft victim was not in pursuit of the suspect, simply following behind the stolen car and providing location information, Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Deputy Tony Turnbull said.

Shortly after that, an Elk Grove motorcycle police officer caught up with the stolen car and attempted to pull the driver over. The thief eventually drove into a neighborhood in southern Sacramento County and turned onto Sandstone Sea Way, which is near Elk Grove Florin and Calvine roads.

When the driver traveled to the end of Sandstone Sea Way, he reached a dead end where the street stops at an open field.

“The suspect put the car into reverse, hit the accelerator, striking the motor officer and his bike, knocking him off his bike,” Turnbull said. “That officer then discharged his firearm toward the suspect.”

Other police units entered the neighborhood and the suspect, who was still in the vehicle when shot, was taken into custody. Turnbull said the suspect, Lance Bernaix, 23, of Sacramento, is in critical but stable condition.

Turnbull said Bernaix is suspected of assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer. The officer, who was not injured, is a 14-year veteran of the Elk Grove Police Department.

The Sheriff’s Department is the investigating agency because it occurred in the unincorporated area of the county.

Asked if the suspect was armed, Turnbull said: “He was armed with a car.”

It was unknown if Bernaix had a gun.

Bill Lindelof: 916-321-1079, @Lindelofnews