1 cop killed, another on life support after deadly mobile home standoff
MINKLER — Two Fresno County sheriff’s deputies, along with a Reedley police officer, were shot in the town of Minkler on Thursday afternoon during a seven-hour standoff.
The deadly shooting took place outside of a mobile home. Hundreds of armor-clad police officers from various Central Valley law enforcement agencies flooded the tiny town located east of Sanger.
The standoff ended when authorities discovered the suspect dead inside the mobile home. The suspect was identified as 51-year-old Ricky Ray Liles of Minkler, according to property reports.
There may have been literal smoke signals indicating trouble at the Liles’ home, according to his landlord.
Chuck Minkler told The Fresno Bee that he rented the mobile home to Liles. Liles had started eight to nine fires on his 20-acre property over the past six months that damaged a two-story storage structure and a small home.
There were also reports of shots being fired at the Minkler store and at the home of Chuck Minkler’s sister. The sister, Sally Minkler, received scrapes in the back from the shots that were fired at her home. She lived adjacent to where Liles and his wife resided. Minkler said that he did not know if Liles was responsible for any of the incidents that involved his sister or the Minkler store.
Liles and his wife reportedly worked for a local security company. State records showed a firearms permit for a man with Liles’ name was canceled last August, but that the same person had a valid guard license.
Deputy Joel Wahlenmaier, 49, was killed in the shooting. He was a detective who investigated homicides and other crimes. He joined the Fresno County Sheriff’s Department back in 1998 and earned the promotion of Deputy IV in September of 2005.
He also held positions in the department as a field training officer, school resource officer and was a member of the search and rescue team.
He is survived by his wife Bev, a daughter, Amy, 24; a son, Austin, 21; and his parents, all of Fresno.
Gov. Arnold Schwazenegger expressed his condolences on the death of the Fresno County sheriff’s deputy in a news release:
“Deputy Joel Wahlenmaier was a dedicated officer who committed his life to protecting his community, always putting the safety of others above his own. Maria and I are deeply saddened by this tragic loss of such an admirable Californian. We send our thoughts and prayers to Joel’s family, friends and fellow officers during this very difficult time.””
Mark Harris, a 48-year-old sheriff’s deputy, was injured in the standoff. He too has worked for the county sheriff’s department since 1998. Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims told reporters Thursday that Harris is in stable condition and is expected to recover.
Reedley police Officer Javier Bejar, 28, is currently on life support at Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno.
Flags at government buildings in both Fresno and Tulare counties were lowered today to honor both Wahlenmeier and Bejar.
The Fresno Bee contributed to this report.