MORENO VALLEY – Two people were killed and a Riverside County sheriff’s deputy was shot in Moreno Valley today in incidents investigators believed were related.
A 74-year-old woman was shot and killed outside a Moreno Valley gas station. A second victim was found at a residence in Moreno Valley.
A Riverside County sheriff’s deputy was shot and wounded in a confrontation with at least one suspect in a remote area about three miles from where the female victim was found, Riverside County Sheriff’s Deputy Armando Munoz said.
The deputy was briefly hospitalized and released tonight, Munoz said.
”We believe they might be connected,” Munoz said of the three incidents.
The woman was identified in a CBS2 report as Wilma Patterson. The report said Patterson was identified by family members at the scene.
Another body, yet to be identified, was found in a residence in the 25000 block of Delphinium Avenue, Munoz confirmed.
Munoz said a search was underway for at least one suspect, but added that there could be more.
Patterson as found dead in her SUV — possibly from a gunshot to the head — at a gas station at Sunnymead Ranch Parkway and Old Lake Drive, according to reports from the scene.
The circumstances of her death were under investigation.
A deputy in the 8500 block of Pigeon Pass Road, near Mount Vernon Avenue, in a sparsely populated location known as Box Springs Canyon called for assistance around 2:25 p.m.
According to sheriff’s radio broadcasts, the deputy encountered a man wearing body armor and armed with an AR-15 rifle.
There were initial reports of three to five assailants carrying rifles, but witnesses may have over-estimated and lumped a landscaping crew in with the shooter and his cohorts, sheriff’s officials said.
Authorities confirmed that shots were fired outside a house at 8555 Pigeon Pass Road. A gardener at the location apparently leapt into a ravine for cover and broke his leg.
A Riverside police armored personnel carrier was brought to the scene to transport a rescue team to retrieve the 24-year-old victim, who was pulled to safety and loaded into an ambulance around 4:15 p.m.
A SWAT unit remained positioned outside the residence on Pigeon Pass Road, cautiously attempting to determine whether any suspects were still on the premises.
A dragnet was extended to all corners of the property. Authorities said the house is unoccupied because the owner is having it renovated.
According to reports from the scene, three spent .223 shell casings were discovered, along with a towel that witnesses indicated one of the suspects used to conceal his identity.
A deputy identified freshly broken branches on several pepper trees at the edge of the property, where the gunmen apparently made their escape on foot.
They were described only as black males, one of whom was wearing military-style clothing, according to reports from the scene.
Munoz said no suspect description had been given, and could not confirm that description.