MARIPOSA COUNTY – A Mariposa County Sheriff’s deputy was shot this morning during a traffic stop, and has been airlifted to a Valley hospital.
At approximately 6 a.m., sheriff deputies initiated a traffic stop on a vehicle due to erratic driving.
A pursuit ensued on Highway 49 just south of the town of Mariposa.
The suspect, Brian Ballasch, a 35-year-old white male from the Merced area, reportedly crashed his vehicle into assisting sheriff units. He then exited his vehicle and after a short verbal exchange, started shooting at four deputies.
One deputy was struck twice, once in the face and once in the torso. The suspect was shot in the ear and elbow when officers returned fire. He is hospitalized in stable condition.
The wounded deputy was airlifted to a North Valley hospital in critical condition. The suspect is in custody for attempted murder of a peace officer and is being treated locally. The suspect gun was reported as a .45 caliber pistol.
The California Highway Patrol is assisting the Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office in their investigation.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with our deputy and family,” says Sheriff Binnewies. “We ask that yours are also.”
Public Information Officer Kristie Mitchell says they are a small, very tight-knit department who hasn’t had an officer shot in the line of duty since the early 1900s.
“We know each other up and down; we are friends, not co-workers,” said Mitchell in a press briefing this afternoon.
The name of the deputy has not been released at this time, but he is reportedly a 10-year veteran of the department, with a wife and children.
ABC30 reports that Ballasch is known to the Merced Police Department as a former Marine who suffers from post traumatic stress disorder.
We will update as more details become available.