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Watching Gunfire On the I-680 Commute

An eyewitness remembers a surreal morning, seeing a CHP officer dash up an embankment to get an angle for a shot.

Jeff Fippin of Walnut Creek dropped the kids off at Parkmead Elementary School Tuesday morning and hopped on Interstate 680 for his commute to San Ramon.

"Traffic was creeping along," Fippin said.

He came up a rise and noticed a CHP cruiser on the right side of the road, having pulled over a motorist. Then Fippin noticed a second CHP cruiser working its way over from the diamond lane on the left to the right shoulder, to pull over in the same area as the first CHP vehicle. Fippin noticed it was a Jeep.

"I was probably 150 yards or so back, bumper to bumper," said Fippin. "I heard the gunshots and I looked up."

That's when he saw the other CHP officer, from the cruiser that had pulled over the initial car (a Nissan Maxima, according to CHP reports). Fippin was struck by how fast the officer ran up a 10- to 15-foot embankment, Fippin said. At the top of the embankment, he fired — maybe four or five times, Fippin said: "I didn't see what exactly he was shooting for."

(The CHP officer who pulled over the Jeep Wrangler — a seven-year CHP veteran in critical condition Tuesday afternoon at John Muir Hospital in Walnut Creek — was shot by the Jeep driver from the driver's seat, Contra Costa Sheriff's spokesman Jimmy Lee said in a Tuesday afternoon news conference. The second CHP officer fired back and hit the driver in the driver's seat, Lee said. The Jeep driver died later in the day at John Muir Hospital.)

Everything happened very fast for Fippin.

Suddenly Fippin realized there were no cars ahead of him and a semi truck stopped alongside. "I was wondering, 'what do you do here?'" said Fippin. "I saw a CHP officer run to assist the officer who was down (near the Jeep)."

Then a white tow truck came up behind with lights flashing, maybe honking his horn. "I drove past so the tow truck driver could get there," he said. Others had stopped to administer first aid, he thought, and he would let others with more knowledge take care of it, Fippin reasoned. He drove on south.

"I didn't really talk to anybody at work," Fippin said. "I didn't talk about it till lunchtime. All I did was witness a kind of surreal thing."

Tom September 05, 2012 at 04:59 PM
@ Peter, sometimes we will never understand. Other than self defense why does anyone kill? Yet all to often it happens. Our law enforcement officers never know the state of mind of who they are confronting when they make a stop. For the most part it is just your normal low level incident but every so often it can go very badly very fast and most the time the perp has the element of surprise on their side. What the motive was will come out soon enough, maybe mental illness, desperation who knows and to the officer and his family it really does not matter.
Stephen Fredricks September 05, 2012 at 07:10 PM
Jeff If you haven't already spoken to the CHP, you need to as an eye witness. Your information is a critical part of the investigation.
Mrs. Bee September 06, 2012 at 03:02 AM
My heart breaks for the Officer, his family and his law enforcement family. I'm SO glad the murdering moron was killed. I'm just sick though that he isn't expected to survive. At least we'll have another Angel to watch over all of us on the highways that become crazier and crazier. He is a true Hero and my thoughts and prayers pour out to his family. I wish all of the other CHP Officers peace and goodwill. Be safe and thank you for what you do!
CeeEm September 09, 2012 at 04:15 AM
"Man has dominated man to his injury." --Ecclesiastes 8:9
Yaseer September 09, 2012 at 06:46 PM
May God help the officer recover fast and regain full health. . . Amen

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