SOSEScript: fullstate.php5 failed executing with the following error: Error on line 19 position 1: Undefined index:
APPLE VALLEY — An Apple Valley man who witnessed the dramatic shootout between Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies and a murder suspect on Wednesday evening said Thursday he was still replaying the vivid image in his mind.
Christopher Miller, who took video of the event, also said he believes deputies used “excessive force.”
“It wasn’t the amount of shots necessarily, it was how long they were shooting at the guy,” Miller said. “The number of rounds I saw hit the ground, after (the suspect) was on the ground, shriveled up. When he actually goes to the ground, there are still rounds hitting the ground over and over and over. It was over-excessive. Excessive is the only word that comes to mind.”
Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies were seeking a man identified as James Jaimez, 29, of Ontario, for “his involvement in a homicide,” San Bernardino County sheriff’s spokeswoman Cindy Bachman said Thursday. Bachman said the circumstances surrounding the shooting were unknown. However, a coroner’s press release said Jaimez engaged the deputies in gunfire.
In Miller’s video, several rounds of gunfire can be heard. Miller was in his truck with his wife and 6-year-old son Jayden. They were stopped at the traffic light on Central Road at Bear Valley Road, directly across from the action on Central. The family was returning from a trip to Los Angeles, where they were visiting Miller’s father-in-law, who is dying of cancer.
“It’s still a pretty vivid memory,” said Miller, whose video of the shootout has gone viral. “My son brings it up every now and again.”
Many on social media questioned the family for driving through the intersection after the gunfire ended. Miller said they proceeded cautiously after they saw the shooting had stopped and deputies had put their guns away. He said he often watches random YouTube videos online and has made it a habit to get photos or video if he drives by a major accident.
“The second I saw the officer with the gun, I thought I would get a few shots of our local deputies doing their job, and kudos to them,” Miller said. “But it turned out to be way, way more than what I would ever want to video.”
“It was just very horrifying, and I’m very stressed out,” said his wife, Crystal Miller, who is five months pregnant. “I’m worried about the baby, of course. It just happened all at once.”
Crystal Miller said she was unsure what direction the guns were being pointed at. She worried the shots would hit her or her son.
“The light turned green and that’s when we started to hear shots fired,” she said. “I stopped where I was, and put the car in park. If I wouldn’t have heard the gunshots I probably would have gone through, because I didn’t know what was going on.
“I’m still a little freaked out about it. I know my son is, too.”
Crystal Miller said she later saw what she believed to be several undercover sheriff’s cars and only one marked Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department vehicle. She also witnessed a motorcyclist who was at the northwest corner of Central and Bear Valley roads — where the shooting occurred — sitting with his hands in the air.
“He was actually on the opposite side as we were, almost in the crossfire, sitting at the stoplight,” Crystal Miller said. “He was putting his hands up and saying ‘I’m not the bad guy. Don’t shoot.’ He was making sure they knew he was there.”
Sheriff’s officials from San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties have been processing the scene since the shooting occurred at about 5 p.m. Wednesday. The entire intersection at Bear Valley and Central roads remained blocked for investigation Thursday afternoon. Officials were telling Lucerne Valley commuters to use Highway 18 as a detour.
A manager at the nearby Digiplex Apple Valley movie theater said no employees witnessed the shooting, nor did anyone inside the cinema, due to the loud regular noise from within the business. They were notified of the incident when a patron came inside to inquire about the presence of law enforcement outside.
— Staff Writer Gary Brodeur contributed to this report.
Brooke Self may be reached at 760-951-6232 or BSelf@VVDai lyPress.com. You can also follow her on Twitter at @BrookeSelf or @DPEduNews.
Shea Johnson may be reached at 760-955-5368 or SJohnson@VVDailyPress.com. Follow him on Twitter at @DP_Shea.