Two Suspects in Custody in Madera Police Shooting - One Suspect Outstanding Print
News - Local
Written by B|V|N Newsroom   
Wednesday, 26 October 2016 10:58

MADERA - When Madera Police Chief Steve Frazier said on Monday that they would have the suspects of the shooting of a Madera Police cruiser in custody by the end of the week, his department knew they had a monumental task ahead for them. Disappointment to the chief was never an option so within a day and a half the men of the Madera Police Department had two out of three of their suspects in custody.

Thomas Matthew Garcia (33) of Fresno has been identified as the shooter. He is an active member of the Fresno Bulldog gang and was taken into custody in Fresno. The shooter has an extensive criminal history including multiple assault with a deadly weapon and resisting arrest charges. Also arrested was the driver of the vehicle, Serena Arroyo (26) of Fresno. Her affiliation to any gangs is not known at this time, however she is the single mother of a little boy. A third suspect is still on the loose, James Cruz of Fresno. He is also an active Fresno Bulldog Gang member. Police are actively searching for this man.

During a press conference at the Madera Police Department Chief Frazier thanked his detectives and officers for their hard work over the last three days to track down these individuals. He also thanked the department's allied agencies Fresno Police, Fresno County Sheriff's Department as well as the United States Marshal Service for their assistance in surveillance of the suspects and apprehending the shooter early Tuesday morning.

When asked why the suspects were in Madera, specifically in that neighborhood, Chief Frazier said "They were lost". According to the Chief the suspects had just finished smoking methamphetamine and were on their was to the Table Mountain Casino in Friant.

They were traveling from Fresno when Madera Police Officer Julian Garcia (no relations to the shooter) attempted to pull the trio over at on Mainberry Drive at Howard Road. "Apparently they made a wrong turn", Frazier added.

During a early Sunday morning stop of a new white Mazda SUV on the west side of Madera PD Officer Garcia and his civilian ride-along passenger Yessica Valencia began a high speed pursuit of a suspect through a residential area that ended in gunfire and a disabled police vehicle.

Around 4:30am Sunday morning the officer was attempting to pull the suspect over at Howard Road and Mainberry Drive when the suspect's just took off at speeds of over 50 mph. The chase went through two stop signs before it entered the Venturi subdivision across Sunset Avenue.

At this point the ride along passenger, who was a member of the Madera Police Citizen's Academy, noticed a gun coming out the passengers window of the suspects vehicle. Two or three blocks ahead at Lighthouse Drive and Mainberry the suspect began firing a weapon at the police car four times,. One bullet pierced an outside wall of a neighborhood home entering the bedroom of the home owners daughter..

The dashboard camera caught all the action, including the pleas from the civilian ride along to not follow the suspect. She got her wish for the chase to end when the last volley of bullets disabled the police car on Lighthouse just a block from Shannon Avenue where the officer lost sight of the vehicle.

Later Madera Police recovered the suspect's car at the 400 block of Krest Street just four blocks from the shooting. That is when Madera Police learned the vehicle was stolen out of Fresno on October 5, 2016. Officer’s searched the area and located an AR15 style pistol and other evidence. The stolen vehicle had paper dealer advertising plates.  Chief Frazier said the suspects left behind lots of physical evidence but would not expand on what that evidence was.

The officer was not injured during the incident. The civilian ride along, Valencia, received minor scratches from broken glass. The officer had recently been released from (FTO) training and was on his second week as a solo officer.

Valencia did not answer questions during the press conference but did sit down for exclusive interviews with national news shows Good Morning America and Inside Edition following the press conference. After that she gave interviews to local news agencies. Big Valley News decided not to interview this young lady about what had to be the most frightening two minutes of her life.

The investigation is ongoing into identifying all persons in the vehicle. Madera Police will hold a press conference later this morning. If you have any information, please contact Detective Sergeant Johnny Smith at (559) 675-4291.