Man wielding machete and ax shot in confrontation with Fresno County Sheriff’s deputies

A man wielding a machete and an ax suffered non-life threatening injuries when shot in a confrontation with Fresno County Sheriff’s deputies on Monday southwest of Fresno.

The man, who was struck in the leg and transported to Community Regional Medical Center for treatment, faces charges of assault with a deadly weapon and resisting arrest, among others.

The incident started shortly after noon on the 3300 block of Beran Way, near Valentine Avenue in the unincorporated community of West Park, when a worker in the area called in a report of a man holding a machete and acting oddly. The worker got into his truck to drive away, but the suspect chased after his vehicle, swinging the machete and hitting it several times.

“The suspect retreated in the direction he came and the worker who was confronted looped back when he saw the suspect go behind a fence and come out now holding an ax and a machete,” said Tony Botti, public information officer with the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office.

“There was an older gentleman who lived on that street who had come out. The suspect then confronted that man, not allowing him to come out of his yard. The worker who was initially contacted wanted to try to intervene to make sure that man didn’t get hurt, tried to take the attention away from the suspect by talking to him.”

Deputies arrived on the scene at that point and gave the suspect verbal commands and used less-lethal bean bag rounds when the suspect was not compliant. The bean bag rounds were ineffective, Botti said.

“The suspect began to lunge and continue to challenge the deputies, so one of our deputies fired multiple shots, striking the suspect in the leg,” Botti said. “They then gave medical treatment to this man. EMS arrived, they were able to take him off to the hospital and he is expected to survive.”

Yellow crime tape blocks South Valentine Avenue where Fresno County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a suspect lunging and chasing witnesses Monday afternoon, May 15, 2023 about 9 miles southwest of Fresno. The suspect in his late 40s or early 50s challenged deputies who later fired bean bag rounds before a deputy drew his gun and fired, striking the suspect in his leg.

The man is in his late 40s to early 50s and is said to live in the area. He was expected to be booked into Fresno County jail later Monday.

It is unknown if drugs or alcohol were a factor, or whether the suspect suffered from a mental illness.

“It’s unknown right now if the suspect was under the influence of anything, but just at face value, to see him waving around two deadly weapons and not complying, there was some sort of disconnect there,” Botti said. “Obviously at the hospital we’ll run a screen on him.”

The deputy involved in the shooting has about five years of experience, Botti said, and had a trainee with him. The trainee did not discharge his weapon, and no deputies or neighbors in the area were injured.

Fresno County Sheriff’s deputies do not wear body cameras — the department has received a $430,000 federal grant to outfit its deputies with body-worn video cameras to record interactions with the public.

“Body cameras will definitely help in incidents like this,” Botti said. “Fortunately, we do have good information. We’ve got some good witness statements. We had multiple deputies on scene. We have a pretty good account on what happened. The stories seem to line up right now, but of course the camera doesn’t blink so if we have body cameras in the future it will fill in those holes that we have questions marks around and then when moving forward into other scenes where there might not be anybody else around they’re going to prove critical.”

Fresno County Sheriff’s Office PIO Tony Botti describes how deputies responded to a suspect lunging and chasing witnesses Monday afternoon, May 15, 2023 about 9 miles southwest of Fresno.
Fresno County Sheriff’s Office PIO Tony Botti describes how deputies responded to a suspect lunging and chasing witnesses Monday afternoon, May 15, 2023 about 9 miles southwest of Fresno.