Target of chase that ended in Livingston killed himself, authorities say

etracy@modbee.comMarch 7, 2013 

BEA AHBECK CASSON/bahbeck@mercedsunstar.com Merced County Sheriff Mark Pazin speaks about an officer-involved shooting involving the Ceres Police Department and the CHP in Merced County early Wednesday (3-6-13) after a vehicle pursuit.

MERCED SUN-STAR

  • ABOUT THE REPORTER
    Erin Tracy
    Title: Breaking news reporter
    Coverage areas: Breaking news, crime
    Bio: Erin Tracy started working for The Bee in September 2010. She has a journalism degree from Humboldt State University and previously worked at the Daily Democrat in Woodland and the Times-Standard in Eureka.
    Recent stories written by Erin
    On Twitter: @ModestoBeeCrime
    E-mail: etracy@modbee.com

— A Stockton man killed after pointing a rifle at officers Wednesday in Livingston died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, authorities said Thursday.

The Merced County Sheriff's Department identified the man as Brandon Wesley Eckel, 27.

Ceres police earlier said the incident started at 12:18 a.m. near Don Pedro Road and Omie Lane in Ceres. Officer Bryan Ferreira pulled over Eckel's 1998 GMC Sonoma truck when he witnessed him throw a cigarette out the window, according to Merced County sheriff's deputy Delray Shelton.

After discovering Eckel had a suspended license, Ferreira told him his truck would be towed.

Eckel drove away, through a fence and onto Highway 99, heading south. He led Ceres police and California Highway Patrol officers on a high-speed chase into Merced County.

The chase ended when Eckel drove over the median of Highway 99 from the southbound lanes and drove the wrong way in northbound lanes. He drove onto the Sultana Drive onramp from Highway 99 near Livingston, wrecked his truck and then got out, Shelton said.

He took out a rifle and pointed it to his chin, then at Ceres police officers Brian Albonetti and Dirk Neiuwenhuis and a California Highway Patrol officer, who opened fire. Eckel then shot himself, Shelton said Thursday.

Shelton said Eckel had an extensive criminal history that includes arrests for domestic violence, drug violations, evading officers, resisting arrest and a sex offense. During the investigation, Eckel was found to be in possession of drugs.

The name of the California Highway Patrol officer who discharged his firearm was not released. Shelton said the CHP wants the officer's name withheld pending the completion of its own investigation.

All three officers are on paid administrative leave, which is common protocol in an officer-involved shooting.

Bee staff writer Erin Tracy can be reached at etracy@modbee.com or (209) 578-2366. Follow her on Twitter, @ModestoBeeCrime.

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