Deputies shoot, kill woman after chase

LAKE ELSINORE Jill Whitney Heller, 45, of Lake Elsinore, appeared to under the influence of alcohol or drugs when she got out of the stopped vehicle, armed with a knife and a black-colored replica handgun, and brandished the items at deputies in a threatening manner, according to sheriff's Sgt. Brian Reno.

Deputies feared for their safety and fired at the female, Reno said. The shooting occurred about 12:30 a.m. today at Collier Avenue and Riverside Drive in Lake Elsinore, according to sheriff's Investigator Juan Zamora.

Deputies first tried to stop the woman at 12:10 a.m. near state Route 74 and Spring Street in unincorporated Good Hope, as she drove a vehicle and appeared to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs, Reno said in a statement.

The woman drove erratically for several miles, Reno said. Deputies pursued and radioed ahead, requesting a spike-strip be set up to try to stop the woman's car, according to Reno.

The woman eventually stopped at Collier Avenue and Riverside Drive, Zamora said.

But she refused to comply with deputies' orders to get out of the vehicle, Reno said. Deputies tried to negotiate, but the woman refused to surrender, Reno said.

Deputies attempted to use unspecified less-than-lethal options to take the woman into custody, but these attempts failed, according to Reno.

When the woman got out of the car and brandished the knife and replica handgun at the deputies, the deputies opened fire, Reno said.

Investigators were still at the scene at 9 a.m. today, Zamora said.

Heller was taken to Inland Valley Regional Medical Center in Wildomar, where she was pronounced dead at 1:14 a.m., according to the coroner.

Investigators from the sheriff's Central Homicide Unit were handling the case, Zamora said.

Her identity was released by the coroner at midday.

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