EUGENE, Ore. -- Police named Ricardo Antonio Chaney as a person of interest in the shooting death of 79-year-old George Wasson, who Eugene Police said was found dead by a firefighter in his burning home near Hendricks Park early Wednesday morning.
Officials said Chaney, 32, of Eugene, is connected to a crime spree that started with a carjacking in Eugene and ended when he died in a shootout with California law enforcement that also claimed the life of a Mendocino County Sheriff’s Deputy.
Eugene Police believe the incident started at around 12:30 a.m. Wednesday when firefighters responded to a fire near Hendricks Park in the East University neighborhood.
Fire crews found the home’s owner, retired University of Oregon professor George Bundy Wasson, had been shot to death while fighting the flames.
Police officials then linked Chaney to a carjacking in the Kinsrow Rd. area about 40 minutes later. Chaney threatened two men with a gun while they were walking toward a Black BMW sedan, Eugene Police said. Chaney took their keys and forced the men to get into the trunk of the car, however both escaped the trunk before Chaney left the parking lot, officials said.
Investigators put out an all-points bulletin on both Chaney and the stolen car Wednesday morning.
Authorities say Chaney was involved in a shootout with a Mendocino County Sheriff’s Deputy just before noon Wednesday near Fort Bragg in Northern California. Both MCSO Deputy Ricky Del Fiorentino and Chaney died late Wednesday afternoon in the shootout, the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office said.
Our NBC News affiliate in San Francisco said Deputy Fiorentino began working with Mendocino CSO in 1988. He spent 10 years with the Fort Bragg Police Department before he went back to the sheriff's office in 2000.
Police are continuing to investigate Wasson’s murder and are working with Mendocino County public safety officials on the related cases.
Chaney's last recorded run-in with Eugene Police was on Thursday, March 6, when officers placed him under arrest after finding a modified AR-15, body armor and narcotics inside his car.
Officials say it was late that evening when two officers tracked a stolen cell phone to the Monroe Street Park area. Officials said the officers couldn't identify any stolen property in the vehicle and the owner, Ricardo Antonio Chaney, denied them the authority to search it.
Officers later stopped Chaney for a traffic violation and found he did not have vehicle insurance. Police impounded his vehicle, searching its contents. Officers reported finding several firearms, including what appeared to be a a modified AR-15 and body armor, located in the glove box and trunk of the vehicle.
Chaney was booked into the Lane County Jail at around 1 a.m. on March 6 for Unlawful Possession of a Firearm and Possession of MDMA. He was released the same day at around 6:40 p.m.