One of two suspects in a carjacking early Wednesday was shot multiple times by police after a 45-mile chase into Catawba County.
The suspect was shot after refusing commands to get down and drop his gun, then pointing it toward the officers, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police Chief Kerr Putney said at a news conference at police headquarters.
The suspect, later identified as Rodolfo Joel Ulloa-Paz, 28, was in critical condition at Carolinas Medical Center late Wednesday. No officers were injured, police said.
The second suspect, Alan Israel Chavez-Cruz, 22, was taken into custody without further incident. A third suspect, Erick Lopez, 19, was not involved in the chase to Catawba County but was charged with possession of a weapon of mass destruction.
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Chavez-Cruz was charged with two counts of attempted robbery with a dangerous weapon, discharging a firearm into an occupied conveyance in operation, two counts of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, robbery with a dangerous weapon, conspiracy to commit robbery with a dangerous weapon and felony flee to elude police.
Ulloa-Paz will be charged with those same offenses once he is released from the hospital, police said.
Putney said the incident began when police tried to stop a red pickup truck early Wednesday near Monroe Road. The truck was connected with several overnight shootings in which no one was injured, Putney said. The truck sped away, he said. Lopez was in that truck, police said.
At about 9 a.m., police found two victims with minor injuries after responding to a shooting on East W.T. Harris Boulevard near Brook Canyon Drive, Putney said. They’d been hit with bird shot during an attempted carjacking, the chief said. Several feet away, police saw the red pickup they’d been searching for engulfed in flames, Putney said.
“Officers determined the suspects abandoned the truck and tried to steal other vehicles at gunpoint,” the chief said.
The suspects stole a third vehicle at gunpoint, a pickup truck, and wrecked it on N.C. 16 in Catawba County during the police pursuit, Putney said. Police were still determining the speeds reached during the pursuit, the chief said.
Three CMPD officers involved in the shooting of the suspect have been placed on administrative leave, which is standard procedure in officer-involved shootings, Putney said.
Police identified the officers late Wednesday as Sgt. Jason Dorty, who joined CMPD on Aug. 8, 2000, and is assigned to the Independence Division; Officer Ronald Elfrard, who joined the department on Jan. 25 and is with the Freedom Division; and Officer Robert Preston, who has been with CMPD since Jan. 28, 2008, and is assigned to the Metro Division.
The State Bureau of Investigation is leading the investigation into the shooting of the suspect since it happened in Catawba County, the chief said.
Putney thanked the SBI, the State Highway Patrol and the Catawba and Lincoln county sheriff’s offices for helping CMPD in the case.
“Because of their work, we probably prevented the public from having great harm,” Putney said.
Police encourage anyone with information about the shootings to call 704-432-TIPS (8477) and speak with a homicide detective. Or call Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600.