Phelan shooting: Retired deputy's hunch helps lead to arrest in boy's shooting

PHELAN, Calif. (KABC) -- A suspected gunman has been arrested for allegedly shooting a 10-year-old boy in the head on the 15 Freeway in Phelan.

The shooting occurred last Thursday shortly after 9 p.m. on the northbound 15 at Cleghorn Fire Road. The boy was riding in his family's vehicle when he was shot.

The California Highway Patrol announced the arrest of 48-year-old Jose Luis Chavez during a Wednesday morning press conference. CHP said media coverage and a retired deputy's hunch led to Chavez's arrest.

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A 10-year-old boy is in the hospital after being shot in the head on the 15 Freeway in Phelan Thursday night.


On the night of the shooting, Chavez was caught trespassing on the property of a retired San Bernardino County sheriff's deputy in the High Desert.

Chavez was arrested, and a search of his nearby parked car turned up a firearm. He was booked on suspicion of trespassing and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

The next day, that retired deputy saw media reports of the shooting and called CHP and told officers about the suspect who had trespassed on her property on the night of the shooting.

CHP investigators spoke with Chavez, who was in custody. Then, they served a search warrant at his Phelan home, where they found several more weapons.

Chavez was identified as the suspect in the shooting, and he is facing a charge of attempted murder. CHP Chief Bill Dance said without the retired deputy, the case would not have been solved as quickly.

"It would have been very easy for this retired deputy not to call in...it was her hunch, her intuition, maybe her 'spidey senses' were tingling, but she called in, and she left that tip, and if it wasn't for her, we would not be here today," Dance said.

The boy was shot near the top of his head. He has since been released from the hospital and is expected to make a full recovery.

The boy's mother said they were returning from a shopping trip when she heard the sound of what she thought was a rock hitting the car. When she saw it was a bullet hole, she turned to her son, whose head was covered in blood. She said she thought he was dead.

The boy's mother also said that after going through this whole ordeal, her son now wants to be a law enforcement officer in his community when he grows up.

"I just want to thank them for doing that hard work that they did and how long they took," the grateful boy said.
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