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Highway patrol officer, suspect die after gunbattle near Southern California freeway

A California Highway Patrol officer was killed and two others were injured after a man driving a truck that was to be impounded opened fire during a traffic stop Monday, starting a gunbattle in which he was also killed, authorities said.

The officer who pulled over the truck was shot but was able to call for assistance, Highway Patrol Assistant Chief Scott Parker said. He was later taken by air ambulance but died from his injuries, Parker said.

Two other highway patrol officers were wounded in the gunbattle, he said.

“It was a long and horrific gunbattle,” Riverside Police Chief Sergio Diaz said at a news conference Monday night.

The gunfire erupted in Riverside, east of Los Angeles, near the 215 freeway shortly after 5:30 p.m.

A highway patrol officer stopped a white GMC pickup, called for a tow truck and was filling out paperwork when “the suspect entered his vehicle and pulled out a rifle, unknown caliber rifle, and he engaged our officer with multiple gunshots,” Parker said.

The shooting and officer’s call for assistance sent CHP and other law enforcement officers to the scene.

The next two officers who arrived, “immediately were engaged with gunfire by this suspect,” fired back and were wounded, Parker said.

Seven law enforcement officers fired their weapons during the gunfight, Diaz said.

The suspect, who has not been identified, was shot by police and died at the scene, he said.

One of the wounded highway patrol officers suffered major injuries and was in critical condition Monday night, and the other wounded officer suffered minor injuries, Parker said.

The highway patrol officers have not been identified.

Two bystanders are thought to have suffered superficial injuries and are expected to be OK, he said.

The Los Angeles Times reported that a woman was driving home with her 6-year-old twins when a bullet went through her windshield. Nobody in that vehicle was harmed. Another man behind that vehicle led the woman and her children to safety, the newspaper reported.

The large crime scene will take some time to process, Diaz said, and investigators will review body-worn camera footage and many eyewitness accounts.

“We don’t know where the suspect was coming from, where he was headed to, what his affiliations are,” Diaz said. “We don’t know his motive for this crime.”