Police Action In Moraga; Search For Gunmen Winds Down; Pinned Down East Bay Regional Park Officer Extracted By Special Weapons Team

Area police called off search for a group of men who exchanged gunfire with an East Bay Regional Park police officer Monday evening.

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. 

Vaugh Trapper July 27, 2011 at 12:05 AM
So? What are they going to do come and beat us for our 1st Amendment Rights? Just because they are an authority does not mean that they are above criticism.
Vaugh Trapper July 27, 2011 at 12:07 AM
Yep. I understand the response to shots at an officer though, that is common for all police departments. But seriously, a 18 year old was shot in the same area, and I speculate by the same people.
Vaugh Trapper July 27, 2011 at 12:08 AM
CCTV's are useless http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/london/8219022.stm?
Vaugh Trapper July 27, 2011 at 12:09 AM
Police are not above criticism.
Vaugh Trapper July 27, 2011 at 12:09 AM
Cameras are a terrible idea. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/london/8219022.stm?
Vaugh Trapper July 27, 2011 at 12:10 AM
It is a bit backwards to think that these are illegal aliens without any support. If we legalized immigration completly they could get reputable jobs and not join gangs. But this is beside the point of your racist assumption.
Vaugh Trapper July 27, 2011 at 12:12 AM
Anyone who voted against Prop 19: This is your fault. Legalize pot in 2012 the only reason people shoot officers over this is because it is illegal. No gang leader wants it to be legal. So think about this close to home violence when you are voting.
Amanda July 27, 2011 at 12:23 AM
Scapegoating ignorance.
El Cucuy July 27, 2011 at 12:26 AM
VT that's an apples to oranges comparison. We're talking about cameras in a few key entry points into small towns -- not CCTV on street corners in a big city. The message you would want to send with cameras in Lamorinda is one of deterrence -- in other words, make yourself a hard target and tell the bad guys to "rob someone else." Plus the report you linked does not note the crime RATE in the areas with cameras vs. the areas without -- it only says the cameras don't help solve crimes. The real issue for Lamorinda is whether the cameras can help deter crimes -- and I'll admit that's debateable -- and very worthy of public dialogue. Deterrence is the same reason people install home alarm systems -- not to catch bad guys but to keep them away. Is Tiburon happy with their cameras? How about other towns? There are examples out there -- let's look at them and then decide.
I am surprised that people have been allowed to hike in an area that is under investigation for large-scale pot growing with armed guards that have been photographed.
J.D. O'Connor (Editor) July 27, 2011 at 12:31 AM
Hey, LC - I THOUGHT I was a former crime reporter. Now I are one again, it seems. I agree with you and have committed Patch to bringing information to the people. However, as your profession has no doubt taught you, people don't always tell the truth... or feel any sense of duty to release information to the public, or to talk with a reporter... former or otherwise. It's an interesting scenario developing. Some police departments - not all, but some - are beginning to operate almost completely independently of the people they are meant to serve. I find it rather troubling. I'm wondering if the public does, too. We'll see. Editor
whoride July 27, 2011 at 01:28 AM
if there truly are a "group" of armed men, one or more with AK assault rifles, ambushing a ranger, with gunfire returned, with in a hours walk or so from Sanders Ranch then I would think the police would be obligated and motivated to advertise every detail they have, just like any other crime scene. They will want to cover their a.. and protect citizens from walking into harms way. NO, I think the more likely reality is that the gun battle and group of armed men was blown way out of proportion and the police don't want to be in the awkward position of explaining why they spent 100k+ in tax payers money last night responding to a situation that may have been grossly overstated by a ranger. Armored vehicle, helicopters, and 100+ officers on overtime all night, easy a 100K+. who pays for that? where's the oversight on these agencies?
Cameron July 27, 2011 at 01:35 AM
I agree with you that marijuana should be legalized. But, Prop 19 was so poorly written that it would have caused more harm than good. For example, it's vague wording would allow the disregard of California's Constitution in regards to checking the legislation. If it had been passed, employers, including the State of California, would've faced the burden of proving that an employee who tests positive for marijuana was “actually impaired” while performing the job before taking any adverse action against the employee. Plus, there are already enough drunk drivers on the road- with the legalization of pot, people couldn't be touched by the law. Proposition 19 would've given drivers the “right” to use marijuana right up to the point when they've climbed behind the wheel, but unlike as with drunk driving, Prop 19 failed to provide the Highway Patrol with any tests or objective standards for determining what constitutes “driving under the influence.’ Sorry to make such a fuss about this, but this situation is in no way the fault of anyone who voted against Prop 19. Besides, illegal, tax-free pot would still be grown, just as illegal alcohol has been produced for years.
Lafayette Curmudgeon July 27, 2011 at 02:56 AM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UPw-3e_pzqU Look, there a lot of police who are terrific and get that most citizens most of the time are helpful. Then there are those that think them above question and criticism. I sure hope Moraga and EBRPD Police and others involved end up in the first group. Or this could become unpleasant. If they knew there were armed men out there and didn't say something, I am going to be pissed, but mighty.
Julie VonHacht July 27, 2011 at 03:11 AM
I believe there is a whole boat load of information the public is not getting...... Perhaps it took last nights police activity to get people to stop believe they live in la la land and find out what's going on so close to town. I too also took my kids hiking up there and would be PO'd to find out info was with held from the public. Either the PD are covering up something or they have no idea how to to deal with it. At least this is what people are starting to think.
Steve July 27, 2011 at 03:57 AM
Trapper is priceless. The best laugh I have had in years. Please Trapper...keep posting. The world needs more comedy.
zen July 27, 2011 at 05:28 AM
After hearing about the shooting at Rancho Laguna and attempting to gather as much information as possible regarding the incident; I truly am disturbed by the lack of information that has been generated by the law enforcement agencies. Our open spaces are a true treasure, we walk, run, and play in these areas. If we are not careful we will lose those moments of sunlight and fresh air. We can't let this happen, and fear will not solve this. Information will help the community understand what the threat is and what our best options are to handle these threats. However, I find increasingly that many crimes that occur in Moraga are not properly reported to the public by the police; they are only spoken about between friends or neighbors. Ultimately, rumors just feed fear but knowledge of the facts will help us decide what our next steps should be. Now is the time for transparency from the Moraga police department.
bryan July 27, 2011 at 05:35 AM
Well, first of all you should know that Moraga PD played a supportive role in this incident and that it's not their case. Second, I agree with you. The only people printing viable news reports on this incident last night was the Patch and if it wasn't for them, this community would have been in the dark and apparently, that is precisely where the police want us. And this isn't the only time it has happened.
Vaugh Trapper July 27, 2011 at 05:55 AM
@Cameron That is anti-drug bs spread by organizations like MADD. I would be much more worried about people driving under the influence of pharmacuticals like Xanax then pot. Every study done has shown that pot is not impairing for drivers. Also people will still go to work stoned just because it is legal does not mean that more people will do it. People go to work drunk and drive drunk even though it is alcohol is legal. http://norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=5450 Info done about driving while high.
Scott Fournier July 27, 2011 at 06:46 AM
you moraga moms and dads are so ignorant its appauling. every moraga pd officer aside from dreyfus is out of shape (fact.) During a hike on the east bay trail by the hairpin turn in canyon. I walked up seeing about 6 mexican men with shovels walking the trail. Wonder what they were doing? Fact is, if that is marijuana related, how are you surprised, we live in a great environment for growing and marijuana (if legalized) would be the biggest cash crop in the country. EBRP were probably doing there routine sunset searches for missing hikers when the officer found something he shouldn't have. However, now that it is has been more than 24 hours, those fields were cut 23 hours and 30 minutes ago.
Tina Chambers July 27, 2011 at 01:58 PM
@Scott - if you want to show us the fitness test results you appear to have on hand to make such a "factual statement" about our police, please share or point locals to your source. Since I had the pleasure of 3 officers being in my home to investigate our home burlgary I'm going to have to disagree. "IF" you are going on body shape, all 3 were slim and trim. That is no fact about their fitness. Just as much as a more shapely figure is assumed non fit. I am delighted to see public interest and comment on this event, but the unfounded statements, as Tony comments Monday morning quarterbacking, speculation (loved the one about a future non-event that tells how a response would go down), and flat out hyperbole is stunnig. Public dabate and comment is good, but as someone noted, let's keep it real. I for one would like to follow up accordingly and hope the Patch does. No one knows what really happened. I was in the building for the tragic 101 California shooting years ago, am I to say we wasted resources when hundreds, yes, hundreds of swat team members handled the situtaion. Every life is worth protecting and I sure hope we all remember that officer is a man, perhaps a father, son, friend, uncle etc and noone should be questioning the resources to rescue him - or the number of copters needed. We all hope there is closure with the results of finding the grow, if it is there, and more information and facts on the event.
Congodog July 27, 2011 at 03:36 PM
Hey JD, This one sure heated 'em up! Maybe we can form a posse!?! CDog
Scott Fournier July 27, 2011 at 04:48 PM
@Tina Sorry you were burglarized, my neighbors were burglarized 3 weeks ago. As far as moraga police department, it really is no secret that they have an overwhelming number of officers are out of shape. How come Moraga pd, at 11am on a wednesday are at the library doing there speed patrol on st marys rd. Instead of patrolling our neighborhoods. I work for ADT, I go down to the moraga pd every week to pull the crime reports. Aside from Price, Douthit, and the chief Priebe, and dreyfus, the officers are out of shape. http://police.moraga.ca.us/images/history/2009.jpg - picture of police force as of 2009. @tina Look at the current police force and tell me they are in shape. Its not really their fault as all they do is go to 7.11 and sit on st marys rd.
J.D. O'Connor (Editor) July 27, 2011 at 04:48 PM
Morning, CDog - Nutty couple of days. Think I'm going to do a little scrubbing of this thread as some folks have strayed a little. We just posted a new one on how things lit up at Patch Monday evening: http://patch.com/A-k7T9 JD
Mike Metcalf July 27, 2011 at 04:53 PM
Tine:--Thank you for your civil and timely comment.
Tina Chambers July 27, 2011 at 05:27 PM
@Mike - you are welcome.
Tina Chambers July 27, 2011 at 05:33 PM
Scott, thanks, and sorry to hear of your neighbor's incident as well. But, please, you continue to be misguided in your assessment. One officer in particular who responded is not even in this photo - and you continue with this "judge a book by it's cover" proof of your opinion. If I subscribed to the judgement you have, which reads as on looks alone, you continnue to be wrong about more than who you list. Also, MPD should be patrolling for speeders, it is a huge problem. And while you may catch a glipse of PD at these locations you seem to deem not appropriate, I can tell you they are patrolling. I just left to get my son at 10, and there was a car in Camino Woods area. So, please, once again, opinion supported by facts.
J.D. O'Connor (Editor) July 27, 2011 at 05:52 PM
Gentle Readers - Please refer to our "Pool Rules" for playing in our Comment Stream: http://patch.com/A-kfFH Please remember that Monday's incident is under investigation by the East Bay Regional Park District police, NOT Moraga PD. Although Moraga played a supportive role that night (all Lamorinda departments support each other during scenarios such as this one), it is NOT their case. Picking at someone, be it an officer or anyone else, for a perceived weight problem strikes me as - what would reader Chris Nicholson call it - snarky? I am not here to censor anyone, it is counter to our Free Speech ethic. But at the same time these posts seem at least a bit off topic and, in my opinion, distasteful. While the readiness of police officers hired by the citizenry to protect and to serve is certainly a fair topic of discussion I don't see anyone benefiting from posts promoting ancient stereotypes - of anyone. And remember, if you see a post you think violates our guidelines for posting, please remember to FLAG it, so I can get a look at it that much more quickly. Due to the number of posts on our stories it can be difficult to find and evaluate a single one. Okay? Thanks! Editor
Congodog July 27, 2011 at 07:44 PM
JD, A PhD thesis awaits some soul who might dig in and analyze the depth and breadth of the quirkiness and extremes of this 'affluent' community. Forming personal opinions, even political ones, is critical to the democratic process. When folks make it their responsibility to leave the world of 'suggestion' and move into 'declaration' is when the process begins to break down. I was appalled by the numbers and behavior of the "Lookie-Lous" as you call them. Let the police do their work. When the potential for deadly violence is present as it was the other night, the most supportive thing to do is stay the hell away. These incidents are rare and the local coppers are understandably a bit rusty and their adrenaline is flowing, so back off and head for the Patch for updates. JD, I must say you have done an extraordinary job of keeping us aware and informed and as someone that relies more and more on the ether for my news, the Patch is amazingly good and your leadership excellent. CDog
J.D. O'Connor (Editor) July 27, 2011 at 08:01 PM
CDog - PhD indeed. With deadline pressure eased I am hoping to take steps to reinforce the concept of personal responsibility for the comments our neighbors post to the site. I've noticed that many in the community connect all comments made on Patch TO Patch directly, and would like to say here and now that people are free to express themselves within reason, but that they do not speak FOR Patch. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to bring that up. Best, JD


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