Suspect accused of shooting San Jose officer was on 'quest' to kill police, chief says

San Jose’s police chief on Tuesday gave chilling details of an officer involved shooting over the weekend, in which he said the suspect had been stalking officers as part of a "quest," to kill police. One officer was shot and wounded by the suspect, who was later taken into custody.   

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Chief Anthony Mata described it as a traumatic case in which the suspect, Noe Orlando Mendoza, plotted an ambush-style attack on officers, as the police department released police body cam images as well as other photos related to the case.   

San Jose police were involved in a shootout with an armed suspect who allegedly injured an officer.  (KTVU FOX 2)

San Jose police released photos showing a damaged patrol car that was involved in a shooting which left an officer injured.  (KTVU FOX 2)

The chief said that on Friday night, two patrol officers attempted to pull over Mendoza at Story and King roads.

"After observing a vehicle driving erratically, patrol officers made what observers and critics of this profession might call a routine car stop for the traffic infraction to further investigate the driver’s bizarre behavior," Mata said. 

He said the suspect pulled over at a gas station, got out of his car and then began firing at police, nearly missing officers. 

San Jose police released photos of a patrol car hit by bullets during a shootout with a suspect on Friday, Feb. 4, 2023.

"The bullet hole in the patrol car’s windshield centered where an officer had been only moments before is as chilling a sight as I have ever seen," Mata said. "Both officers were inches away from being struck by the gunfire. Both officers acted quickly and bravely, returning fire as the suspect got back into his vehicle and fled."

Investigators were able to identify a residence on Sinbad Avenue associated with the suspect’s vehicle, Mata said, and a surveillance team set up at the location. 

The suspect entered the home around 1 a.m. on Saturday morning. About two hours later, officers ended up surrounding the home and began to call out the suspect. The chief said that within minutes, Mendoza then attempted to escape out of the rear of the property and scaled a fence into a neighboring yard. 

Officers closed in, and that’s when the suspect started shooting at police again, this time striking an officer.

"Mendoza jumped onto the fence looking at the two officers and opened fire, discharging multiple rounds before fleeing in the opposite direction," the chief said, noting that the officers chose not to return fire.

"Our officers are highly trained and disciplined, especially our MERGE officers. They train continuously for these types of incidents and are very disciplined in their response," the chief said, adding, "We have very strict polices as to when they're able to discharge their weapon, and again undertaking fire they demonstrated extreme discipline and bravery not returning fire."   

The chief said that Mendoza didn’t get far, as police managed to take him into custody a short time later. 

The injured officer was struck twice, once in the hip area and also took a bullet to his protective ballistic plate. He was rushed to a hospital and was now recovering at home.

Mata said that their investigation showed that Mendoza started targeting police hours before that encounter, as he was seen trying to make contact with police on at least two occasions. 

Earlier on Friday night, the suspect’s vehicle was seen backing into the police substation parking lot at the San José Mineta International Airport. When officers attempted to make contact, the suspect sped off, Mata said. 

He was also seen following at least two marked patrol vehicles a short time later and police were also looking into the possibility of his vehicle at the police station headquarters earlier in that evening. 

"Mendoza’s pattern of stalking San Jose police officers at three locations around the city gives us some idea of the deliberate, premeditated nature of his intent to kill officers that night," the chief said, adding that while in custody, the suspect repeatedly asked if he had killed any officers. 

Police said that Mendoza was a felon with an arrest history involving weapons, narcotics, vehicle violations in Los Angeles, Arizona, and Oregon. 

The chief also said their investigation determined that the suspect used a so-called "ghost gun," when he targeted officers. 

San Jose police said that suspect Noe Orlando Mendoza used a ghost gun when he shot at police before he was arrested on Feb. 4, 2023. 

San Jose's new mayor, who was also a part of Tuesday’s briefing, said this was the latest example of why the city was so committed to getting unserialized guns off the streets.

"Four of the last five officer involved shootings in our city were committed with a ghost gun," Matt Mahan said. "Just, as of last fall, the city made it illegal to possess even frames or receivers that are unserialized. So this is a very serious trend and disturbing trend, and one that we are on top of. And we’re going to continue to do aggressive enforcement against the illegal possession of ghost guns," the mayor explained. 

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The police chief commended the officers for their commitment to keeping their community safe and for handling the case with bravery and discipline.  

"We train and prepare the best way we can to be ready for these attacks because we know they will happen," Mata said. "Our officers received the best training available and their courage, discipline and training is what helped them survive this deadly encounter against a very determined and dangerous individual." 

He also stressed that the case was a sad reminder of the dangers of the job and that those in uniform knew all too well that this was not the first time, nor would it be the last time they would be targets of such attacks. 

"Our loved ones expect us to come home after every shift, and we know that there will be those trying to prevent that from happening," the chief said. "Members of the department continue to prove their unwavering commitment to our community, even if that makes them the target of violence in doing so."

San Jose police were involved in a shootout with an armed suspect who allegedly injured an officer.  (KTVU FOX 2)

San Jose police released an image of an officer pointing a gun during a shootout in which one cop was wounded.  (KTVU FOX 2)

San Jose police released a photo showing a car damaged in a gun battle that left an officer injured. 

Evidence markers line the street from a shootout with an allegedly armed suspect accused of wounding a San Jose police officer.  (KTVU FOX 2)