Body found in burned-out home during search for suspect in officer-involved shooting in Riverside

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (KABC) -- Authorities discovered a body Tuesday during a search for a suspect who they said opened fire on police officers during a foot chase in Riverside the night before.

Around 10:50 p.m. Monday, patrol officers noticed a car with "suspicious people" inside near Hawthorne Avenue and MacArthur Road, police said. As the officers approached the car, a man inside got out and ran.

The officers chased the suspect down a side street off MacArthur Road near Garfield Street. Police said the suspect took out what appeared to be a gun and opened fire on the officers. Police returned fire but were not hurt during the officer-involved shooting.

"It was just like 'pow, pow, pow, pow, pow," said Riverside resident Emily Shearin. "We heard like a 30-second break and it started again, and that's when we realized it was gunshots."

It was unclear if the suspect was struck by gunfire during the encounter. Authorities said the person fled the scene. A two-block perimeter was set up as police searched for the suspect.

"It's a tactical operation, where we have members of our metro SWAT team out here doing a methodical search of the neighborhood just so we can make sure that the residents over here are very safe. Hopefully, we can take this person into custody," Officer Ryan Railsback said.

There were three other people inside the vehicle - two men and a woman - who were all detained for questioning. Authorities did not say if any arrests were made. The suspect was considered armed and dangerous.

Around 9:30 a.m., witnesses said SWAT officers launched at least three flashbang devices inside a home they believed the suspect barricaded himself in.

Railsback said before SWAT officers went in to search the home, the fire erupted, which put the operations on hold.

Firefighters rushed to the structure wearing tactical gear and knocked down the blaze. They initially did not make entry into the home since the suspect was armed. Firefighters checked the safety of the home before searching the residence to see if the suspect was inside. A deceased person was found but was not immediately identified.

Before authorities deployed flashbang devices in an attempt to lure the suspect out, residents in nearby homes were evacuated as a safety precaution.

Members of the suspect's family, who believe he perished in the fire, arrived at the scene Tuesday afternoon. The suspect's sister said his cousin was with him when police approached them outside of her home.

The sister, who declined to be publicly identified, disputed authorities' claim that her cousin was armed at the time of the incident.

"They didn't have nothing on him," she said. "He was running. They shot him. He fell, got up and continued to run."

Anyone with more information or residents in the neighborhood who see anything suspicious are urged to call 911. The investigation is ongoing, and the cause of the fire was unknown.

The officer-involved shooting comes hours after a Whittier police officer was shot and killed while responding to a traffic accident.
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