Three Santa Clara County sheriff’s deputies are being interviewed by Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety officers following the fatal shooting of a man believed to be the gunman in Wednesday’s shooting rampage at a Cupertino quarry, Sheriff Laurie Smith said this morning. The names of the deputies have not yet been released, but Smith said two are male and one is female. They each have less than five years’ experience on the force.
“Three deputies doing routine patrol found the suspect despite all our efforts,” Smith said at a news conference today. “They are exceptional, great deputies … who did a great job at the scene.” She said their names would be released later today. The deputies were on patrol this morning during a massive manhunt for Shareef Allman, a 47-year-old San Jose resident and employee at the Lehigh Southwest Cement Company’s Permanente Plant who police say shot nine people there early Wednesday morning, killing three.
At about 7:30 a.m. today, one of the three deputies spotted a man who resembled Allman “crouching behind a car” parked near 934 Lorne Way in Sunnyvale. That deputy and two others approached the man and attempted to confront him. But when they saw that the man had a handgun — possibly the same one used in the quarry shooting — all three deputies fired and killed him on the spot, said Smith. She said he displayed the handgun in a “threatening manner” at the deputies, though it hasn’t been determined whether he fired the gun.
The medical examiner’s office has yet to confirm the man’s identity. Officers from almost every law enforcement agency in the region had saturated the neighborhood since Wednesday morning, with SWAT teams going door-to-door and searching backyards. Joe Ponepinto, a 50-year-old resident who lives a few streets over on Leighton Way, said police had searched his backyard. Ponepinto said this morning he awoke to the sound of rapid gunshots. “All of a sudden, I hear pop-pop-pop and I thought maybe I’m dreaming,” Ponepinto recounted. “Then I got up and two minutes later I hear sirens going off.” The neighborhood is generally peaceful and quiet, Ponepinto said. Smith said investigators are looking into whether Allman moved around overnight or stayed inside a house in the neighborhood. “How he was able to evade officers, we don’t know that,” she said. “I’m not sure the home he was in front of was even involved.”
The street where he was located is a few blocks from a Hewlett-Packard company parking lot near the intersection of Homestead Road and Tantau Avenue, where he allegedly attempted to take a woman’s car at gunpoint shortly before 7 a.m. after fleeing the cement plant on Wednesday. When the woman refused, he shot her once before fleeing. She was taken to a hospital to be treated for her injuries, which are not considered life-threatening.
Earlier in the morning, at about 4:15 a.m., Allman opened fire on his colleagues during a safety meeting at the cement plant, located at 24001 Stevens Creek Blvd., about five miles from HP. Allman shot nine people there, killing three. The three men were identified as John Robert Vallejos, 51, and Mark Munoz, 59, both of San Jose, and Manuel Guadalupe Pinon, 48, of Newman. The other victims were treated for their injuries. Smith said they are all expected to survive.
In addition to the handgun police recovered this morning, three weapons were found “in the vicinity” of the HP parking lot on Wednesday,
Smith said. They include two assault rifles and one shotgun. Officers also recovered a Mercury sedan associated with Allman at an Arco gas station at the intersection of Wolfe and Homestead roads. The investigation is ongoing and being handled by the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety. The three deputies have been placed on paid administrative leave. Assisting were the San Jose, Campbell, Morgan Hill, Gilroy and Palo Alto police departments, along with the U.S. Marshal’s Office and the FBI.
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