Photo: Joshua James Chimarusti
July 26, 2021 – Ventura County, Ca.
What should certainly appear as Chapter One in the “How to Shoot at Helicopters” handbook (hopefully not available at your local bookstores or anywhere else) would be the warning never shoot at law enforcement aircraft.
If such a hypothetically risible text actually did exist, it’s clear that 44-year-old Oak View, Ca. resident Joshua James Chimarusti would not have followed its cautionary note and would likely have done exactly what authorities accuse him doing of on the night of July 21st .
According to Ventura County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Detective Ryan Poynter, the Ventura County Firehawk Copter 4 flight crew was “conducting nighttime training operations” in the area of Lake Casitas at approximately 9:15 p.m. on the 21st when “they became aware of\ gunfire directed at them.” Evasive action on the part of the chopper pilot was immediately taken while the crew spotted “a suspect vehicle” fleeing from the area at high speed.
Copter 4 proceeded to follow the suspect vehicle as it headed into the community of Oak View, just southeast of the City of Ojai. As the vehicle was observed coming to a halt, the suspect—later identified at Chimarusti—“fired additional shots” at the helicopter and then fled the area on foot.
By then, law enforcement resources had been summoned to the scene, and VCSD K9, SWAT, and VCSD Copter 3 units swarmed the area in “an extensive search” for the suspect. Just after midnight, in the wee hours of Jully 22 nd , Chimarusti was contacted and taken into custody.
He was transported to Ventura County Jail, where he was booked on charges of attempted murder, assault with a firearm upon a peace officer or fire fighter, shooting at an occupied aircraft, discharge of a firearm with gross negligence, being a prohibited person in possession of a firearm, and carrying a loaded unregistered firearm. He remains in custody on a no-bail hold.
Photo: Courtesy Ventura County Jail Booking