Investigators on Thursday identified the suspect in a shooting on Interstate 8 in Mission Valley that left a California Highway Patrol officer with a bullet wound to the leg.
Yuhao Du, 25, was arrested and faces several charges, including attempted murder of a peace officer, taking a firearm from an officer and causing great bodily injury for the incident on Wednesday, the CHP said in a news release Thursday.
Investigators also confirmed the identity of the officer wounded in the incident as Antonio Pacheco, a seven-year veteran of the force who was born and raised in San Diego.
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Pacheco contacted Du at around 6:20 p.m. Wednesday on the median of eastbound I-8 near the I-805 interchange after Du was involved in a single-vehicle crash in the center median, according to Captain Taylor Cooper.
Du, a resident of San Diego, was standing in front of his vehicle when he suddenly attacked Pacheco, lunging at Pacheco's firearm, Capt. Cooper said. Du attempted to take control of Pacheco's firearm and a struggle ensued. At one point, one round was discharged and struck Pacheco in the leg.
Several motorists stopped to assist the injured officer and detain Du until additional officers arrived. Du was taken into custody.
“I just commend the public who was driving through that area yesterday who felt compelled to stop and help one of my officers. I am forever grateful and I know his family is as well,” Cooper said.
Pacheco was shot in the right thigh and was taken to Scripps Mercy Hospital in Hillcrest where he underwent surgery and is now in stable condition and expected to survive, CHP Captain Michael Harris said.
It is unknown what caused Du to crash his car or if he was under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. Cooper said this was an unprovoked attack on Pacheco.
The CHP’s Border Division Investigative Services Unit is handling the criminal investigation.
NBC 7 learned that Du is a graduate student attending the University of California San Diego (UCSD).
The incident severely impacted traffic in the heavily commuted area. All lanes of I-8 in both directions were shut down for the investigation. There was traffic on I-805 and surrounding city streets as a result. While westbound lanes of I-8 were reopened late Wednesday, eastbound lanes weren't reopened until Thursday morning.
"CHP officers put themselves at risk every day they come to work," said CHP Chief Scott Parker. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the officer and his family as he recovers from his injuries.”
Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to call the CHP Investigative Services Unit at (858) 650-3620.
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