Morgan Hill, CA – A Santa Clara County Sheriff’s deputy’s bodycam may have saved his life during an ambush attack on the side of a rural road, investigators said.
Police are still searching for the two gunmen who opened fire on Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Deputy Sukhdeep Gill at approximately 10:30 p.m. on Jan. 31, The Mercury News reported.
Deputy Gill was on patrol near the Uvas Reservoir when he decided to pull over and take a look around on foot.
Moments later, he spotted an older-model, silver Honda Accord approaching him, but the driver shut off the car’s headlights as he and a male passenger got closer, KNTV reported.
The gunmen abruptly opened fire, shooting Deputy Gill squarely in his chest, according to The Mercury News.
The bullet impacted the deputy’s bodycam, and he was also wearing a ballistic vest.
Several rounds also struck his patrol vehicle.
Deputy Gill immediately fired two rounds at the shooters as they sped away from the scene.
Investigators said the attackers fired at least four times during the encounter, The Mercury News reported.
“This was an ambush,” Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith said on Monday, according to KNTV. “Based on the evidence, it was an unprovoked attack on our deputy, and our suspects are wanted for premeditated attempted murder of a law enforcement officer.”
Deputy Gill immediately radioed that shots had been fired, but dispatchers were initially unable to get him to respond in the minutes that followed, The Mercury News reported.
It was later discovered that the deputy had fallen down an embankment. It took him two minutes to crawl back up to the roadway.
Deputy Gill was treated and released for his non-life threatening injuries.
“He was very lucky, very brave under fire,” Sheriff Smith said.
Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Detective Brandon Omori said that investigators are working to determine whether or not Deputy Gill was targeted as a hate crime, KNTV reported.
“We’re looking at all possibilities,” Det. Omori said. “Deputy Gill is a practicing Sikh and he was wearing head dress and garb.”
“We support him, and our department supports him,” he continued, according to The Mercury News. “It’s unknown whether it’s a hate crime or a crime of opportunity against law enforcement.”