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Modesto school burglary suspect is shot

Police shot and wounded an 18-year-old man suspected of running away from an attempted burglary and driving a pickup directly at officers early Saturday at Johansen High School in east Modesto, a police spokesman said.

Michael Baker of Modesto suffered a gunshot wound to the chest that was not life-threatening and was taken by ambulance to a hospital for treatment, said Modesto police Sgt. Brian Findlen.

Baker was released from the hospital within a few hours and was booked at the Stanislaus County Jail, Findlen said. No other injuries were reported.

"Firing a firearm is something that no officer takes lightly," Findlen said. "It's unfortunate that these officers were forced to make that split- second decision based on the action of these two men."

Last year, the department recorded seven officer-involved shootings, according to a September report to the City Council. The targets in three of the shootings were dogs.

Saturday was the third time a Modesto police officer has shot and wounded a suspect this year.

The incident began about 12:45 a.m. after reports of a silent burglar alarm going off at the high school's football stadium press box at 641 Norseman Drive, just east of Claus Road and Creekwood Drive.

Police said the alarm indicated glass had been broken. Findlen said investigators believe Baker and a second man broke at least one window and attempted to pry open the door to the press box.

The officers arrived within three minutes and encountered two men running east across the football field from the west side of the stadium, Findlen said.

The men ran to a parking lot on the east side of the stadium and got in a parked white Chevrolet pickup.

One of the officers then reported on a police radio that the pickup driver tried to run over an officer.

Findlen said the preliminary investigation suggests the pickup driver, Baker, "abruptly and intentionally" drove toward an officer. He said three officers fired their guns numerous times at the truck.

The pickup left the parking lot and turned west onto Creekwood Drive and then north onto Claus Road before the officers caught up in their patrol cars and stopped the vehicle.

Baker and his passenger, 18-year-old Modesto resident Corey Anderson, were taken into custody without further incident.

Both men were arrested on suspicion of attempted commercial burglary and criminal conspiracy. Baker also was charged with assault with a deadly weapon upon an officer.

Officers' IDs not revealed

Modesto police detectives and investigators from the Stanislaus County district attorney's office are investigating the incident.

The officers who fired their weapons have been placed on paid administrative leave while the incident is investigated, standard procedure in officer-involved shootings.

Findlen said it will be up to Acting Modesto Police Chief Mike Harden to decide whether the names of the involved officers will be released publicly. He said that decision is made on a case-by-case basis. A decision is expected Monday.

Police closed Claus Road between Creekwood and Scenic Drive until just before noon as investigators collected evidence at the scene.

The first officer-involved shooting this year took place Jan. 11, when officer Latisha Leap shot Richard Robles Jr., 45, after he confronted her carrying a sword in downtown Modesto. Robles died at a hospital about an hour later.

After an extensive investigation, district attorney's officials said Leap was "legally justified in her use of deadly force."

On Oct. 25, an off-duty officer shot 24-year-old Modesto resident Glen Dean Carey, suspected of burglarizing a central Modesto home. Police said the officer confronted Carey as he walked out of the home carrying a gun he stole from the home.

Carey survived his injuries and was arrested on suspicion of residential burglary. Police did not release the officer's name to ensure his safety, because he lives on the street where the burglary took place.

Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at rahumada@modbee.com or 578-2394.

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