A San Jose man went on a “quest to kill” San Jose Police Department officers. Noe Orlando Mendoza, 38, allegedly followed officers around their own police station and stalked marked patrol cars before opening fire during a traffic stop.
According to Police Chief Anthony Mata, after Mendoza shot an officer, surrendered, and was taken into custody, he asked police if he had succeeded in killing any officers.
On Tuesday, Mata had a news conference to release more information about two shootings reportedly carried out by Mendoza.
One officer was hit by two bullets — one struck his hip and the second struck his ballistic vest. “This is a chilling case. I am very grateful we did not lose any officers in these senseless attacks. Police place themselves between good and evil,” Mata said.
Mendoza’s “quest to kill” began around 8 p.m. Friday, when a vehicle similar to Mendoza’s car was seen on the San Jose police station’s campus.
At 8:40 p.m., Mendoza parked outside an SJPD substation, in a police staff parking space. An officer confronted him and Mendoza sped off.
Around 10:30 p.m., a rookie officer and a field training officer saw a white sedan run a red light on Story and King roads.
“Patrol officers made what critics of this profession would call a ‘routine car stop.’ Nothing we do is routine,” Mata said. The officers rapidly realized that they were targets of an “ambush-style attack,” he said.
After officers pulled over the car, Mendoza stepped out and opened fire. The SJPD patrol vehicle was struck multiple times, including bullets that penetrated through its windshield.
The officers returned fire, hitting the suspect’s car as he drove away. Officers with the department’s special operations unit, called the Mobile Emergency Response Group and Equipment Unit found Mendoza hiding in a home’s backyard on Sinbad Avenue.
A standoff occurred and Mendoza hid and jump over fences into more backyards. Police used a drone to track him.
At one point during the standoff, Mendoza stood on top of a fence and shot a MERGE unit officer, Mata said.
MERGE unit officers never returned fire, followed their training and SJPD protocols, and demonstrated “extreme discipline and bravery not returning fire,” Mata said. “Our officers are highly trained and disciplined, especially our MERGE officers.”
The standoff ended when Mendoza ultimately surrendered and was taken into custody. The injured officer was rushed to a trauma center and is expected to recover.
Investigators said the weapon used to target officers was a privately-made ghost gun.
Mayor Matt Mahan said, “Someone was out there actively targeting our officers. Four of the last five officer-involved shootings were committed with ghost guns. This is a serious and disturbing trend.