FRESNO, Calif. — A police officer who was critically wounded in a rural Fresno County shootout that left two others dead was taken off life support Monday.
Reedley police Officer Javier Bejar was wounded Thursday when he arrived to provide backup for Fresno County sheriff's deputies in Minkler, a tiny village in the San Joaquin Valley. Bejar, who survived a tour of Iraq as a Marine, is the first Reedley officer to die in the line of duty in the department's 100-year history.
"This has absolutely traumatized our city and our department," Chief Steve Wright said as Bejar lingered on life support.
The deputies were serving a search warrant at his mobile home of Rick Liles when authorites says he opened fire. Fresno County sheriff's detective Joel Wahlenmaier was killed, and Deputy Mark Harris suffered non-life-threatening injuries.
Liles also died in the shootout, and authorities say he likely took his own life.
Doctors at Community Medical Center in Fresno removed Bejar from life support at 5:30 a.m. Monday, said Clovis police spokeswoman Calli Biaggi, who has been assisting Reedley police as spokeswoman. His wife, friends and relatives had spent the days since the shooting praying for a miracle.
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Bejar became an Explorer Scout in the department at age 15 and worked his way up to the rank of lieutenant. After a stint in the Marines, he enrolled at a police academy and was hired in Reedley in 2005. In 2007 he was named Officer of the Year, and in 2009 he received a life-saving medal.