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Gun battle erupts across from Fresno State

As The Collegian went to press Tuesday night, one man was fighting for his life in a hospital bed. It was the result of a gun battle that erupted at the University Inn across from the Save Mart Center.

Fresno Deputy Police Chief Andrew Hall said the man was shot in his torso and arms after gunfire broke out in the parking lots of the hotel just after 10 p.m.

Previously, the single police officer who was dispatched to the location was sent there because a suspicious person was knocking on doors of the motel. But when the officer arrived, he “was immediately confronted by gunfire,” Hall said.

At that point, the officer was not involved in the shooting, nor did it appear that the bullets were directed at him. It was clear, however, that some men were trying to kill each other with guns.

One man was struck multiple times, Hall said. Some of the men, perhaps after seeing the presence of the single officer in uniform, fled into some nearby bushes, Hall added.

They later emerged from the bushes. Then more gunfire erupted. At this point, the officer fired back.

“Any time you drive up and there’s active firing going on – yes – that’s pretty serious,” Hall said during a news conference held about 1 a.m. just feet from the Fresno State campus.

When the dust settled, this much was known: The confrontation involved six men, all Hispanic. Two men – brothers who had a room at the inn – were on one side. Four men, who allegedly fired at one of the brothers as he left his car in the parking lots, were on the other side.

The one man was left severely injured and was undergoing surgery at the time of this reporting. His brother was also taken to Community Regional Medical Center for chest pain, Hall said. Three men ran east on Shaw Avenue. The fourth was bitten by a K-9 dog and taken to the hospital too, Hall said. A jail cell was likely the next stop for the victim’s brother and the man bitten by a dog – they had both allegedly tried to resist arrest by officers.

Fresno State at this time was wrapping another day of classes. Students were getting in their last sweat at the Student Recreation Center. The lights were still on in the Henry Madden Library and the young men and women living in the dorms were likely thinking of heading to bed soon.

Fresno police notified the Fresno State Police Department about the shooting and told the campus department that the situation was “stabilized and under control,” according to an officer who spoke with The Collegian just after midnight.

Officials in campus buildings, like the library and University Student Union were notified about the shooting but were not instructed to undergo any emergency procedures.

Hall said the shooting did not appear to involve the university in any way. He did say, however, that the police officer who fired at the men shot in a north direction. Fresno police officers were investigating whether any bullets had struck the Save Mart Center.

The officer who fired his weapon was taken to the downtown Fresno police headquarters and was being questioned for his actions. Body cam footage apparently captured the entire ordeal, including the moment the officer offered first aid to the injured man. Following protocol, Hall said the officer was placed on administrative leave. He is a veteran officer with the department.

Once officers picked up the bullet casings and cleared up the very “fluid” crime scene, Hall said the eastbound lanes of Shaw Avenue would likely open to traffic once again for the morning commute.