The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office confirmed Monday a bystander was in a pickup caught in the crossfire Sunday between a deputy and a Sonoma car wash employee.
The man’s truck was struck twice by bullets while he sat inside it waiting for a car wash shortly after 11 a.m. at the Jolly Washer 76 gas station on Highway 12, said Santa Rosa police Lt. John Cregan, whose department is overseeing the investigation into the deputy-involved shooting.
Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Spencer Crum said the deputy, working as a police officer for the city of Sonoma, suffered nonfatal wounds and was released Monday from Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital.
Ryan Joseph Pritel, 20, of Sonoma was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder and carrying a loaded firearm in public, police said. He was booked into Sonoma County Jail on Sunday on a $1 million bail amount.
The Mother’s Day incident began after a Jolly Washer 76 gas station manager called Sonoma police when Pritel, an employee, refused to leave the property. The manager of the store, located on the corner of Highway 12 and Ramon Street, said Pritel was acting erratically and carrying a BB gun.
When deputies arrived, Pritel was washing the gray pickup as it waited in line for the automatic car wash. Cregan said what the manager described as a BB gun was actually a 9 mm semiautomatic handgun in Pritel’s waistband.
Three deputies approached the truck with guns drawn as Pritel hid behind it, Cregan said. Pritel raised up and fired one shot at a motorcycle deputy and wounded him. The deputy was hit with a round of “snake shot,” a bullet whose projectile is made up of small pellets.
The deputy fired two shots back, striking the truck’s rear window and a side panel, Cregan said. Pritel was not hit.
The Sheriff’s Office declined to release the deputy’s name Monday, saying investigators were evaluating whether he faced any threat if his name were made public, Crum said.
The man inside the truck has cooperated with investigators since the shooting, Cregan said. Police have not released the man’s name.
“We don’t believe the deputy was aware there was a man inside” the truck, Cregan said. “What’s important to remember is this transpired in a matter of seconds. The suspect suddenly sprung up” and shot the officer, who returned fire, he said.