Calif. deputy mending from gunshot wound to face
Alex Ladwig was alone and working overtime at a transit station when authorities say he approached Nicory Marquis Spann on the lower level
By Don Thompson
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Alex Ladwig, a 25-year-old Sacramento County sheriff's deputy, was working an evening rush-hour shift at a transit station when, without warning, he found himself fighting for his life.
The four-year Sheriff's Department veteran was alone and working overtime at a Sacramento station when authorities say he approached 27-year-old Nicory Marquis Spann on the lower level shortly before 6 p.m. Tuesday. It's not clear why he did so, but Ladwig soon radioed his colleagues for help, saying he was in a fight.
Moments later, he radioed he'd been shot.
The attack triggered an hours-long manhunt that snarled interstate traffic, forced dozens of bystanders to flee a nearby hotel, and ended with Spann surrendering in a hotel alcove after he was spotted by a remote-controlled police robot, authorities said Wednesday.
Ladwig was recovering in a hospital Wednesday after being shot in the face with his own gun.
Spann, of Sacramento, was jailed without bail for investigation of attempted murder of a sheriff's deputy. Officials could not say if Spann had an attorney or will be assigned one when he appears Friday in court.
Sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Tony Turnbull said Spann attacked the deputy without being provoked and wrestled away his gun, firing twice. One bullet struck Ladwig in the jaw.
More than 100 officers from multiple agencies swarmed the area within minutes of Ladwig's distress calls. Fire trucks and ambulances followed. A sheriff's helicopter arrived overhead so fast that deputies spotted Spann running into a nearby Red Roof Inn.
"Once you put out over the radio that you're fighting somebody, immediately officers are usually responding," Turnbull said.
Witness Tori Brant was with other people in a Starbucks across the street from the hotel and was told by police to evacuate immediately.
"Police said they were preparing for a shootout." Brant told the Sacramento Bee.
Dozens of hotel guests were evacuated, and others were warned to stay locked inside their rooms while a special weapons and tactics team went door to door in search of the suspect.
"When you're dealing with a building that has several stories, it becomes an even more tactically difficult situation," Turnbull said. "You have to take one room at a time, one floor at a time. Your eyes have to be everywhere."
Deputies brought in a remotely controlled bomb disposal robot, a multi-wheeled contraption equipped with an extendable arm and four cameras.
Using the robot, authorities spotted Spann hiding in an alcove in an outside hallway of the motel about 9:15 p.m. Deputies were able to talk to Spann through the robot, convincing him to surrender.
Court and prison records and an Associated Press story say Spann was convicted nearly a decade ago of charges linked to the fatal shootings of a brother and sister.
Spann, then 18, was initially charged with murder and conspiracy to commit murder.
He was eventually given a 16-month sentence on revised charges of being an accessory after the fact and receiving stolen property.
Spann was arrested with three other suspects after 24-year-old Omar Aquino and 27-year-old Teresa Sanchez-Aquino were fatally shot inside their Mountain View home in 2008.
He later received a three-year sentence for selling drugs and completed his parole in 2012. He has since faced several misdemeanor charges.
Ladwig's duties at the bus and light rail station along Interstate 80 included checking fares and dealing with loiterers or people who appear to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
He was talking as he was rushed away by ambulance — "always a good sign," Turnbull said. His jaw was surgically repaired and he was in stable condition Wednesday at Mercy San Juan Medical Center.
His injury will take months to fully heal, according to a GoFundMe account that has collected more than $22,000 after being set up by a family friend