A man suspected in a string of unprovoked attacks on drivers in the Fallbrook area was shot Friday morning when he used a bat to club an undercover sheriff's deputy's car, according to investigators.
The San Diego County Sheriff's Department deputy was stopped in an unmarked car near Reche and Ranger roads at about 4 a.m. Friday, when a man with a baseball bat smashed his window and began attacking him.
In defense, the deputy fired several gunshots at the suspect, striking him at least once in the torso. The suspect was taken to the hospital for surgery, SDSO homicide Lt. Rich Williams said.
The deputy had cuts to his face, possibly because of the smashed glass and was taken to the sheriff's department. His condition was not known.
"I know that there was a lot of blood around his eye and face area. We’re hopeful that he doesn’t have an eye injury but at this point I couldn’t say for sure," Williams said.
The incident prompted a deputy-involved shooting investigation that stretched into the morning. At the scene, a baseball bat could be seen on the ground within the crime scene tape perimeter.
Williams said the deputy was conducting surveillance in search of the exact suspect who attacked him.
The man was suspected in at least three similar attacks in which he would approach drivers stopped at the intersection of Reche and Ranger roads and smash in their car windows. All appeared to be random, Williams said.
The first attack happened on Wednesday. In that instance, the driver was able to get away in his car and report the crime to SDSO, Williams said.
The next day, the man approached two drivers sitting in their car and smashed their windows, one at 8 p.m. and the other at 10 p.m. In the third attack, the driver was injured and transported to the hospital, the sheriff's department said.
Because of the attacks, deputies were staking out the intersection overnight Friday. That's when the fourth attack happened.
"The suspect approached the deputies vehicle, just like the other victims in the area, unprovoked, and smashed the window and attacked the deputy with the bat," Williams said.
It was possible the suspect did not know the deputy was undercover, he said.
SDSO was still conducting an investigation into the suspect but believed he was a transient who lived out of his car near the intersection where the attacks occurred.
He faces at least assault with deadly weapon charges, Williams said.
"It depends on the circumstances of the investigation," he said. "If it reveals that the suspect’s intent was to murder somebody, to commit a homicide then it would be attempted murder."
Reche Road would be shut down for several hours from Ranger Road to S. Old Highway 395 as detectives investigated the shooting. The area was north of State Route 76 and less than two miles north of Pala Mesa Resort.
No other information was available.
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