Photo: Gregory Putnik
The night of October 18, 2020, Fresno police officers were called to the 1300 block of Esther in Central Fresno; a white male armed with a broom handle, indicating he had a pistol under his shirt, was attempting to carjack a black Mercedes Benz. The driver fled from the suspect and reported the incident to 911.
The suspect, later identified as 32-year old Gregory Putnik, decided to climb onto the roof of a residence. The commotion led the homeowner to arm themselves with a rifle and confront whatever was making the noise. Putnik was on his way down the roof when the resident came out and managed his way over a fence. The resident went back inside their home and placed the rifle on the kitchen table.
Making his way to the street, Putnik as approached by a second neighbor and the confrontation turned physical. Ordered to drop to the ground by arriving police officers, the neighbor complied, but Putnik backtracked to the original residence and made off with the rifle that had been place on the kitchen table.
Putnik was quick to use his new weapon, firing it at a group of teenagers hanging out across the street on Esther. A police officer fired her weapon at Putnik who then took off northbound, unharmed, rifle still in hand. When he came across a marked, unoccupied Fresno Police Patrol vehicle, he attempted to break the driver’s window with the stock of the rifle which such force that it broke the stock.
Abandoning that venture, Putnik continued northbound on Esther and broke a residential window. Another police officer encountered Putnik and fired his handgun, wounding the suspect.
Putnik remained mobile, however, and found his way into a small sedan on the corner of Esther and Floradora. He pointed the rifle at officers as he appeared to hot wire the car. He again abandoned this attempt and fled northeast on foot, ignoring commands to surrender. The two less lethal bean bag rounds that struck him did not slow him down either.
The wild chase continued around the neighborhood making its way to the 900 block of North Pine. After repeated attempts to deescalate the situation, the officers were once again confronted by the armed suspect who refused to surrender. Proving to be a continued threat, officers fired their handguns at the suspect, striking him down. Putnik was rendered aid and transported to a local hospital where he passed away.
Putnik was listed as an armed and dangerous parolee at large from Springfield, Illinois with a primary violation of assault on a police officer and wanted for multiple warrants across the United States. The Fresno Police Department Homicide Unit, the City of Fresno Civil Liability Team, the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office, and the City of Fresno’s Office Independent.
Review are investigating this case. Five officers and one sergeant have all been placed on administrative leave pending the investigation.