Numerous police agencies — including Lamorinda departments, Contra Costa County sheriff's deputies and East Bay Regional Park police — called off their search Monday for several individuals who reportedly opened fire on a parks police officer, at least one of them with a semi-automatic weapon.
The unidentified officer, who was on foot patrol in the Upper San Leandro Reservoir area when he encountered the group about 6:45 p.m., returned fire when fired upon by the group. At least one man was carrying what appeared to be an SKS or AK-47-type assault rifle, police said. The EBRPD officer took cover and waited for help in the form of their armored car, which rolled into the area and picked him up at 8:17 p.m. The officer was not injured in the exchange of gunfire.
It was not known if any of the individuals he fired on were hit, police said.
Multiple police units — including helicopters and an armored car —were deployed to the area and residents reported an extremely heavy police presence as officers attempted to set up a perimeter in the brushy terrain. The search for the gunmen was terminated at 9:55 p.m. but is expected to continue this morning.
East Bay Regional Park Police Capt. and former Moraga Police Chief Mark Ruppenthal told KTVU News what residents have been talking about for some time, that at least one large-scale marijuana operation is in place in the hills near the reservoir and that pictures of a group of armed men guarding the crop have been taken by police observers.
Residents may remember a bizarre incident in April in which a member of a work party repairing a fence on Quail Crossing Road near Rancho Laguna was reported shot and critically injured. That man was treated for "serious" abdominal injuries but no explanation for the incident was ever given.
It is unknown if that incident and Monday's incident are related.