Witnesses share heart racing moments after deputy-involved shooting in Thousand Palms

This afternoon an investigation is underway into an officer-involved shooting.

News Channel 3 was on the scene last night when gun fire broke out between a Riverside County Sheriff’s deputy and a suspected hit and run driver.

It happened last last around 7 p.m. near Ramon and Robert Roads.

The department is now reporting the deputy is in stable condition as he recovers at a local hospital.

We were there all throughout the early morning into the afternoon on Thursday, as the shopping center returned back to normal, but that’s not what witnesses saw Wednesday night. They had to live through heart racing moments as they witnessed crossfire in their neighborhood plaza.

Many of those witnesses were customers and employees of nearby businesses, and had to come back Thursday to retrieve their cars because they were considered to be part of the crime scene. 

“The police who was shooting, he was right in the corner right there. And she opened the door and he yelled at her, ‘Close the door and lock everything and turn the lights off,'” said Arias.

He was just feet away from where the shootout happened between deputies and the suspect. 

He says customers, afraid of getting caught in the cross fire, knocked on the door and asked to go inside. 

“So we opened the door for him. And he was with a kid and the kid was crying,” said Arias.

Another gentleman, who asked to remain anonymous recounts the moment he first heard gunshots while shopping at the San Miguel Market. 

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“As soon as I walked into the store, I grabbed some milk and put it into my cart. Moments later, I just heard a barrage of gunfire, looked like it was very repetitive.”

Next thing he saw was deputies running to help.

“Then the other deputy, that was the guy shot, that was laying right there next to the laundromat on the floor. They were giving him first aid immediately.”

He also shared the moment leading up the SWAT team’s arrival,” He was putting his hands up at one point and then he just kind of put his hands back down inside the vehicle.”

Customers and employees of nearby businesses were evacuated while Sheriff’s Deputies were trying to apprehend the suspect. 

“Some of the people that were inside the restaurant that’s right in the corner, they were running, literally running out. They told everybody to leave whatever they have, the cars, leave the food, whatever, just walk outside and walk out to the corner and walk down the street.”

Residents we spoke to say it’s concerning that scenarios like this one are playing out so close to home. 

“It’s getting to the point to where it’s almost kind of scary now, where I can’t even go out to get a gallon of milk for my daughter and you know, a pack of sodas for my family for dinner and be in the middle of a shootout. It’s scary.”

Our crews have seen Sheriff’s investigators arriving on scene throughout the midday and afternoon hours to survey the area.

We will keep you up to date with new developments on this story as they happen.

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