MORENO VALLEY, Calif. (KABC) --A search is underway for at least one suspect who shot a Riverside County sheriff's deputy in the Moreno Valley area Tuesday afternoon. Several other incidents, including two murders, appear to be related.
The suspect, who was allegedly wearing body armor and armed with an AR-15 rifle, remained at large as of 11 p.m. Nearby residents were advised to stay inside their homes.
The deputy was transported to Riverside County Regional Medical Center with non-life threatening injuries after being shot at a home on the 8600 block of Pigeon Pass Road near Mount Vernon Avenue around 2:40 p.m. He has since been released.
It was initially believed four to five suspects were involved. Authorities later clarified that only one or two suspects were being sought.
Department spokesman Albert Martinez says the deputy was responding to an assault with a deadly weapon call when he was shot. The deputy was able to call for back-up.
"While they were conducting that investigation, we did have the deputy ask for additional units cause he needed assistance," Martinez said. "At some point, there was some type of altercation."
A SWAT team, including snipers, and dozens of Riverside County sheriff's deputies and police officers responded to the scene and surrounded a house near the area. A SWAT unit remained positioned outside the residence, attempting to determine whether any suspects were still on the premises as of 11 p.m.
A second crime scene at a Shell gas station on the 23500 block of Sunnymead Ranch Parkway near Old Lake Drive is also believed to be related to the deputy's shooting.
A white SUV with bullet holes and shattered windows was blocked off as a crime scene. A woman, identified by family as 74-year-old Wilma Patterson, was found dead in the SUV. The circumstances of her death were under investigation.
Family members say Patterson's son-in-law, identified as 58-year-old Derek Hardy, was murdered at a third crime scene inside a home on the 25500 block of Delphinium Avenue near Kitching Street.
Investigators would not get into specifics about the suspects or the violence, only saying that the three crime scenes are connected.
"We trying to figure out why, what's the answers," Patterson's son, Randy Green said. "Why? Why did this all happen? How did it all start? How did it even get to this point?"
Family members would not comment on who they believe the suspect is, they would only allude to the fact that mental illness may have played a factor.