FULLERTON – Authorities identified Monday a gunman shot and killed by Fullerton police officers after a high-speed chase that ended when the vehicle crashed through a fence and plunged 20 feet into a drainage canal.
The man has been identified as Aurelio Paul Ramos-Navarette, 22, of Buena Park, Fullerton police Sgt. Jeff Stuart said. Ramos-Navarette, a documented gang member, was pronounced dead at the scene, he said.
The chase began about 11:15 p.m. Thursday when a patrol officer tried to stop a maroon Dodge Ram 1500 pickup occupied by two men in the area of Euclid Street and Wilshire Avenue for minor traffic violations, Fullerton police Sgt. Jeff Stuart said.
The driver failed to yield and continued westbound on Malvern Avenue, and as the vehicle approached Gilbert Street at about 90 mph, the driver lost control, crashing through a fence and into a drainage canal. The truck, which was reported stolen out of Buena Park, landed on its roof, Stuart said.
Ramos-Navarette fled from the truck and hid in a connecting tunnel within the drainage canal, he said.
Moments later, he emerged from the tunnel and fired at officers.
“They returned fire and he was struck,” Stuart said, adding that it was unknown how many times he was hit pending the ongoing investigation.
“A handgun was in his possession,” Stuart said. No officers were hurt in the shooting.
The other man, Diego Figueroa, 22, of Smithfield, Utah, was taken to UCI Medical Center in Orange for treatment of minor injuries he suffered when the truck plunged into the concrete drainage canal, Stuart said.
It was unclear which man was behind the wheel, he said, adding that the truck was being processed for DNA at the Orange County Crime Lab.
Figueroa, a suspect in the fatal 2010 drive-by shooting of 17-year-old Jesse Rodriguez, was later booked at the Fullerton City Jail on suspicion of felony auto theft and may be facing additional charges.
According to court records, a man with the same name and date of birth as Figueroa was arrested in 2011 for misdemeanor resisting a peace officer. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 90 days in jail and three years’ probation. He also had a handful of traffic violations, including riding a bike at night without a headlight and driving without a valid driver’s license, records show.
Ramos-Navarette had numerous infractions ranging from traffic violations to being in possession of an open container, according to court records. Court records also show that a man with the same name and date of birth pleaded guilty in 2010 to unlawful taking of a vehicle and street terrorism, both felonies. He was sentenced to two years in state prison, three years probation, 270 days in jail and ordered to pay restitution.
The Orange County District Attorney’s Office is investigating the case, as is customary with officer-involved shootings. The Fullerton Police Department is also carrying out an investigation.