Deputy Sheriff Ricky Del Fiorentino
Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office, California
End of Watch: Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Tour of Duty: 26 years
Badge Number: Not available
Cause of Death: Gunfire
Date of Incident: March 19, 2014
Weapon Used: Rifle
Suspect Info: Shot and killed
Agency Contact Information
Sheriff Thomas D. Allman
Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office
951 Low Gap Road
Ukiah, CA 95482
Phone: (707) 463-5657
Deputy Sheriff Ricky Del Fiorentino was shot and killed while searching for a subject who had abducted two people in Oregon earlier in the day and then shot at a store owner near Leggett, California.
Officers from multiple agencies were searching the area when Deputy Del Fiorentino came across the subject’s car on a dirt road in the town of Cleone, near MacKerricher State Park. The subject opened fire on Deputy Del Fiorentino from ambush, firing multiple rounds and fatally wounding him before he had a chance to exit his vehicle.
A Fort Bragg police officer who was nearby and heard the gunfire responded to the scene to discover the subject going through Deputy Del Fiorentino’s patrol car. The officer exchanged shots with the subject and struck him in the leg, causing a fatal wound.
Deputy Del Fiorentino had served with the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office and Fort Bragg Police Department for a total 26 years.
Del Fiorentino grew up in Napa and had been in law enforcement for 26 years. He spent 16 years with the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office.
News agencies are reporting today that suspect Ricardo Chaney did not commit suicide, but died as a result of police gunfire. Confirmation of that information by the Sheriff’s Office is pending.
The Fort Bragg area is safer tonight, but it cost the life of a veteran deputy.
Shot and killed by an armed robbery and kidnapping suspect was Mendocino County Sheriff’s Deputy Ricky Del Fiorentino, Sheriff Tom Allman said at a press briefing this evening.
The incident began early on March 19, in Eugene, Ore., with an attempted kidnapping and vehicle theft. Details of that crime are still pending, but the suspect allegedly forced the owners into the trunk of a car. A bulletin was broadcast to Northern California law enforcement.
Ultimately a suspect was found and identifed as Ricardo Antonio Chaney, 32, of Oregon, but not before he wrought a path of mayhem from Oregon to Fort Bragg.
At about 10:34 a.m., the proprietor of Confusion Hill, a business on Highway 101 in Northern Mendocino County, accosted a man urinating outside the premises. The man left briefly, then walked toward the store in a suspicious manner. The proprietor armed himself with a baseball bat and struck the suspect as he entered the business, causing him to drop a shotgun he had hidden in his clothing, which discharged.
The proprietor then retreated to a back room and the suspect fired his shotgun at the door, then fled. The proprietor armed himself with a handgun, and shot at the suspect as he drove off. He then called 911.
At 11:38 a.m., Mendocino County Sheriff’s Lt. Greg Stefani was northbound on Highway 1 at milemarker 77 and spotted the suspect vehicle, described as a black 2006 BMW 330 four-dour sedan, headed southbound.
Stefani began a pursuit, with the suspect driving at speeds over 100 mph. Stefani lost sight of the vehicle at milemarker 66, about three miles north of Cleone, a small town north of Fort Bragg.
Stefani then met Fort Bragg Police officers who began a search from that point south.
At 11:51 a.m., Del Fiorentino was searching for the suspect and turned down Park Drive on the west side of Highway 1 near Cleone. He apparently came face to face with the suspect’s black BMW.
The suspect then riddled Del Fiorentino’s car with rounds from an assault-type rifle, killing him. The assault might have been an ambush, said Allman.
Shortly after, Fort Bragg Police Lt. John Naulty came on the scene and saw the suspect inside Del Fiorentino’s car attempting to remove Del Fiorentino’s gun from its holster. The suspect fired at Naulty and Naulty returned fire. Approximately 15 shots were exchanged.
Naulty then retreated and called for assistance. Del Fiorentino’s handgun was later recovered near the scene. Officers from multiple agencies then converged on the scene, including CHP, State Parks, Fort Bragg Police, Sonoma County Sheriff’s deputies and a Sonoma County helicopter.
The suspect sustained a gunshot wound to his leg at some point. The suspect apparently then committed suicide. He was deceased when found.
Although there were initial reports of multiple suspects, Chaney was ultimately identified as the sole suspect involved. Two assault-type rifles and a shotgun associated with him were recovered. The exact type of rifles involved is pending further investigation
Highway 1 is being reopened, but the investigation will continue with a CHP shooting incident team and Department of Justice investigators.
Allman lauded Del Fiorentino as a brave man who served two agencies well. He had a total of 26 years as an officer, with 10 years at the Fort Bragg Police Department and 16 years as a deputy sheriff.
He was an active volunteer in the community, a wrestling coach and he raised a fine family, said Allman.
Memorial services are pending, but there are no specifics yet.