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Watching Gunfire On the I-680 Commute

An eyewitness remembers a surreal morning, seeing a CHP officer dash up an embankment to get an angle for a shot.

Jeff Fippin from Walnut Creek dropped the kids off at Parkmead Elementary School Tuesday morning and hopped on Interstate 680 for his commute to San Ramon.

"Traffic was creeping along," Fippin said.

He came up a rise and noticed a CHP cruiser on the right side of the road, having pulled over a motorist. Then Fippin noticed a second CHP cruiser working its way over from the diamond lane on the left to the right shoulder, to pull over in the same area as the first CHP vehicle. Fippin noticed it was a Jeep.

"I was probably 150 yards or so back, bumper to bumper," said Fippin. "I heard the gunshots and I looked up."

That's when he saw the other CHP officer, from the cruiser that had pulled over the initial car (a Nissan Maxima, according to CHP reports). Fippin was struck by how fast the officer ran up a 10- to 15-foot embankment, Fippin said. At the top of the embankment, he fired — maybe four or five times, Fippin said: "I didn't see what exactly he was shooting for."

(The CHP officer who pulled over the Jeep Wrangler — a seven-year CHP veteran in critical condition Tuesday afternoon at John Muir Hospital in Walnut Creek — was shot by the Jeep driver from the driver's seat, Contra Costa Sheriff's spokesman Jimmy Lee said in a Tuesday afternoon news conference. The second CHP officer fired back and hit the driver in the driver's seat, Lee said. The Jeep driver died later in the day at John Muir Hospital.)

Everything happened very fast for Fippin.

Suddenly Fippin realized there were no cars ahead of him and a semi truck stopped alongside. "I was wondering, 'what do you do here?'" said Fippin. "I saw a CHP officer run to assist the officer who was down (near the Jeep)."

Then a white tow truck came up behind with lights flashing, maybe honking his horn. "I drove past so the tow truck driver could get there," he said. Others had stopped to administer first aid, he thought, and he would let others with more knowledge take care of it, Fippin reasoned. He drove on south.

"I didn't really talk to anybody at work," Fippin said. "I didn't talk about it till lunchtime. All I did was witness a kind of surreal thing."

gayle goldblatt September 05, 2012 at 03:24 PM
I was caught in the backup. For nearly 2 hours. Moving at snails pace. Meeting and talking with the others also caught up. Radio news demonstrated its 'east-by-phobia' by saying "oh 680 is closed, avoid it. and a lane is closed on the bridge." same amount of time for ONE lane as for an entire highway. INCREDIBLE. I took some photos that I will try to post. FInally, when we can crawled past the on ramp (cars WERE still trying to get ON the highway for a while), and I took a deep breath and drove off the on ramp.
The Real Anon September 05, 2012 at 06:07 PM
Why did they close the lanes on the opposite side of the freeway? Nothing happened on the other side.
Jed September 18, 2012 at 01:39 AM
A number of my friends are CHP officers and I feel deeply troubled by this event - no one should die on the job - especially at the hands of some psycho nut-job (who else would shoot a cop?). I've been out of town since the day after the event and am curious why all the trash and garbage on the pavement outside the Jeep - did the officers toss a grenade or something inside? I hope that wasn't evidence scattered about. I also have not heard of what motivated the nut-job to take a shot at the officer. Anybody?

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