On August 30, 2017, at approximately 12:00 PM, Sacramento County Sheriff’s Deputy Robert French was shot and killed outside of the Ramada Inn at 2600 Auburn Boulevard.
Earlier in the day, investigators from the multi-jurisdictional Sacramento County Auto Theft Suppression Task Force (SACCATS), were conducting surveillance at the Ramada Inn on a suspected stolen vehicle. After a short time, two females drove the vehicle away from the Ramada Inn. Upon initiating a vehicle stop on the stolen car, the female driver refused to stop and a lengthy pursuit ensued. At the termination of the pursuit, the female occupants were detained and the driver of the vehicle was found to be on searchable probation and was registered to a room at the Ramada Inn.
Investigators subsequently returned to the Ramada Inn to conduct a probation search of the room to which the female driver was registered. The investigators, being unsure if there was still anyone inside the motel room, positioned another uniformed Sacramento County Sheriff’s Deputy to the rear of the second-floor room in the alleyway below.
Five Investigators approached the room, which was located within an interior hallway, and gave knock and notice, identifying themselves as law enforcement and requesting entry into the room. After receiving no response from anyone inside, investigators attempted to enter the room with a passkey. While trying to open the door, they found it was being forcibly blocked from the inside. While attempting to force entry into the room, gunshots were suddenly fired from the interior of the room through the door and walls, toward the officers in the hallway. Two California Highway Patrol (CHP) Investigators were struck by gunfire and one CHP Investigator and one Sheriff’s Deputy were able to return fire into the motel room. The investigators obtained positions of cover and broadcasted via radio that there were shots fired at their location as they began to evacuate themselves from the hallway.
The suspect then emerged onto the balcony and began engaging the deputy positioned to the rear of the motel room with gunfire from an AK-47 type rifle. The deputy returned fire and exchanged gunfire with the suspect multiple times. Despite efforts to keep the suspect contained, the suspect leaped from the balcony and fled around the building toward the front parking lot.
Deputy French was monitoring radio traffic when he heard the radio broadcast and was just seconds away from the Ramada Inn. Deputy French arrived in the motel parking lot and contacted investigators as they were running to his vehicle seeking cover. One of the injured CHP investigators was loaded into another arriving Sheriff’s vehicle and immediately transported to a local hospital by a Sacramento County Sheriff’s Deputy.
Deputy French retrieved his rifle from the rack of his patrol vehicle, took cover behind his vehicle, and attempted to acquire the suspect.
The suspect took notice of Deputy French’s arrival and began to fire his rifle towards Deputy French’s vehicle from across the parking lot.
The suspect was attempting to make his way toward a stolen Dodge Challenger in the parking lot as he fired upon Deputy French. Deputy French continued to look for the suspect in an attempt to stop him from fleeing and potentially injuring other officers or members of the community. While doing so, Deputy French was struck by a round fired from the suspect’s rifle after the bullet passed through a portion of Deputy French’s patrol vehicle. The round entered through the top of Deputy French’s shoulder, missing his body armor and passing through his heart, mortally wounding him.
Despite being mortally wounded, Deputy French remained vigilant and continued looking for the suspect’s location as the suspect entered the stolen vehicle and attempted to flee from the parking lot. As the suspect began driving toward Deputy French’s position, Deputy French emerged from behind cover and engaged the suspect with gunfire upon having a safe backdrop to do so, and in an effort to stop the suspect from fleeing and causing more harm to the community.
The suspect exited the hotel parking lot and led responding deputies on a vehicle pursuit through a nearby business district and residential neighborhoods. During the pursuit, the suspect became slowed by traffic at which point a pursuing deputy took action. Realizing the suspect had nowhere to go and was momentarily stopped in traffic; the deputy exited his vehicle and observed the suspect in the driver’s seat of the vehicle with the barrel of the rifle pointed in his direction. The deputy engaged the suspect with gunfire from his handgun in an attempt to stop the violent actions of the suspect and threat to the community.
During the entire gun battle, the suspect fired approximately thirty-four rounds from his AK-47 rifle and approximately nine rounds from his handgun. An AK-47 rifle, two handguns, and a live hand grenade were recovered from the suspect’s vehicle. A subsequent search of the motel room revealed methamphetamine and an additional handgun.
After the suspect fled the parking lot of the Ramada Inn, law enforcement personnel on scene rendered first aid to Deputy French. Sacramento Metropolitan Fire Department personnel arrived on-scene almost immediately and continued life-saving measures in an attempt to save the life of Deputy French. The well trained and prepared personnel from Sacramento Metro Fire, worked tirelessly, exhibiting professionalism and extraordinary communication while working on Deputy French. Despite their attempts, Deputy French succumbed to his injuries caused by the suspect’s gunfire.
Deputy French exhibited extraordinary and conspicuous bravery in the line of duty in his attempt to stop an extremely dangerous, armed suspect from continuing to endanger his fellow officers and the community he so proudly served for twenty-one years. Deputy French is survived by his daughter, two sons, sister, girlfriend, and grandchildren.