ALTURAS, Calif. — Authorities identified the suspect Thursday in the shooting of a deputy killed while responding to a family disturbance call in Northern California a day earlier —becoming the state’s fourth law enforcement officer to die in the line of duty over the last two weeks.
Modoc County sheriff’s Deputy Jack Hopkins, 31, was fatally shot Wednesday morning after deputies were called to a rural area near the Oregon border.
Hopkins entered the property of Jack Lee Breiner, 47, south of Alturas, California, to investigate the call and, according to a preliminary investigation, was shot by Breiner and instantly died, the Modoc County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.
Breiner fled the scene in his vehicle and was then wounded in a shootout with Sheriff Mike Poindexter, who was also responding to the disturbance call, the statement said. Poindexter sustained minor wounds but immediately returned to work, it added.
Breiner was treated for a gunshot wound and later taken into custody, the statement said. The document did not provide other details of the encounter.
Hopkins, who had previously worked for the Alturas Police department, joined the sheriff’s department last year, the sheriff’s office said.
His death comes after two Palm Springs police officers were shot and killed Oct. 8 during a domestic disturbance call and after a Los Angeles County sheriff’s sergeant was gunned down Oct. 6 in the high desert town of Lancaster while answering a burglary call.
The killings in California are the latest in a string of fatal attacks on officers that includes ambushes in Dallas and Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
A video posted late Wednesday to the Modoc County sheriff’s Facebook page showed about two dozen police cruisers with their emergency light illuminated driving down a street to honor Hopkins. The video was titled “Deputy Jack Hopkins Procession.”
Hopkins was recalled as a kind man in an homage posted on the Facebook page of the Alturas Municipal Airport. Modoc County bills itself as a place “where the west still lives.” Alturas, with fewer than 3,000 residents, is the county’s only incorporated city.
“When he pulled you over for a headlight, or something you did, he always was courteous and had a smile on his face. He didn’t have a mean bone in his body, just a great guy. He is missed by all of us,” the Facebook post said.
The county is nestled between the Nevada and Oregon borders, in California’s high desert region. It spans about 4,000 square miles and its northern part is called the Modoc Plateau — a mile high expanse of lava flows, cinder cones, juniper flats, and pine forests.
Recreational enthusiasts flock to the nearly 1 million acres of the Modoc National Forest for hunting, hiking and fishing.
California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris said Hopkins’ killing showed how “each and every day, brave men and women kiss their families goodbye and risk their lives in service of others.”
Hopkins made the “ultimate sacrifice,” her statement added.