MENDOCINO COUNTY Sheriff's Deputy Ricky Del Fiorentino, 48, was shot to death today (Wednesday) when he was ambushed by a man on a major crime run that began late Tuesday night in Eugene, Oregon. Most of the following information on the terrible events come from Sheriff Allman's 5pm press conference at the Fort Bragg Police station Wednesday afternoon. The killer committed suicide shortly after exchanging fire with Lt. John Naulty of the Fort Bragg Police Department. He has been identified as Ricardo Antonio Chaney, 32, of Eugene.
JUST AFTER MIDNIGHT this morning, Chaney carjacked a Eugene couple driving a black four-door BMW, forcing them into the trunk of the car. At some point, the couple was able to escape from the vehicle without injury. It is not known yet where they freed themselves.
DEL FIORENTINO, 48, of Fort Bragg, had been with the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office for many years, starting as a deputy in 1988. In 1990, he moved to the Fort Bragg Police Department, returning to the sheriff's office in 2000. He was highly regarded in Fort Bragg where he donated many hours to the high school sports program, and coached wrestling for several years.
AT 10:34 a.m. Wednesday morning, the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office received a call from Confusion Hill at Leggett. The owner had encountered Chaney urinating near one of the tourist attraction's structures. The owner, picking up a baseball bat, ordered Chaney to leave, but he soon returned. The owner struck Chaney on the arm with the bat, and the shotgun Chaney had hidden on him dropped to the floor and discharged. The owner fired a handgun at Chaney as Chaney sped south on Highway One where he was soon pursued by Deputy Stefani at speeds of up to 100 miles per hour. Stefani lost sight of the BMW near Cleone, by which time law enforcement had closed Highway One. The fugitive, apparently aware that a large, armed contingent of police were staked out along Highway One to prevent him from getting into Fort Bragg, drove west on Park Drive, where police were soon looking for him.
DEPUTY DEL FIORENTINO was searching Park Drive, 3.5 miles north of Fort Bragg on the west side of Highway One when Chaney opened fire on the deputy with an assault rifle. Sheriff Allman placed the time of the shooting as 11:50. The Sheriff said that Del Fiorentino’s hood was "riddled with bullet holes, and its front and back windshields had been shattered by gun fire."
OFFICERS from the Fort Bragg Police Department were nearby and ran to the sound of the gun fire where they found Chaney riffling through the deputy’s car. Chaney then fired at Lt. John Naulty six or seven times before Naulty was able to return fire. Chaney, Allman said, seemed to have been shot in the leg before disappearing into roadside brush where he shot himself.
COAST REPORTER FRANK HARTZELL ADDS: Deputy Del Fiorentino was a really calm, steady guy, and from all I could tell a nice guy. He really helped me once with a mental health situation when I worked for Mental Health and impressed me. He was a bailiff at Ten Mile Court too, as I remember. What a terrible loss.
THE NEW YORK DAILY NEWS ADDED: Chaney had a record of at least five arrests, including on assault and weapons charges, dating back to 2002, according to Lane County, Oregon [County Seat: Eugene] online records. He was most recently arrested March 6 on drug possession and weapons charges. He was released later in the day.