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Sheriff Guarded But Optimistic About Deputy’s Condition

MARIPOSA COUNTY – Sheriff Doug Binnewies says the suspect who shot a Mariposa County Sheriff’s deputy this morning after a chase through town apparently wanted to be pulled over.

In an interview with ABC30’s Gene Haagenson this evening, Sheriff Binnewies said it appears that Brian Ballasch was intentionally driving in an erratic manner and dangerously passed a marked deputy’s patrol car at a high rate of speed, in an effort to initiate the traffic stop.

Ballasch then crashed his vehicle into assisting sheriff units, exited his vehicle and after a short verbal exchange, started shooting at four deputies.

One deputy was struck twice, once in the mouth and once in the upper torso. The suspect was shot in the ear and elbow when officers returned fire. He is hospitalized in stable condition, facing charges of attempted murder of a peace officer.

Ballasch, 35, is reportedly known to the Merced Police Department as a former Marine who suffers from post traumatic stress disorder.

A visibly emotional Kristie Mitchell, Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer, described the incident in a news conference earlier today, calling the injured deputy “a 10-year veteran, a father, a husband and a friend.”

Sheriff Binnewies says the wounded deputy is now expected to survive.

“Right now we’re guarded but we’re optimistic,” the sheriff told Haagenson. “The deputy is still in critical condition, but things are looking much better.”

The sheriff spent most of the day at the Modesto hospital with the deputy and his family. The name has still not been released because all of his family have not yet been notified.

Haagenson reports that it was touch-and-go throughout the day, but doctors believe he will pull through. They anticipate a long recovery, as the deputy was shot with a .45 caliber handgun.

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