Antonio Pacheco
Officer Antonio Pacheco. Photo credit: Courtesy, CHP

A California Highway Patrol officer continued to recover Thursday from a gunshot wound he suffered during a struggle with a motorist in Mission Valley.

Meanwhile, authorities held Yuhao Du, 25, of San Diego – who allegedly tried to grab the lawman’s gun after getting into a solo accident on Interstate 8 – without bail.

They also revealed more details of the confrontation that led to Tony Pacheco’s injuries, including the efforts of motorists who stopped to help him.

CHP Capt. Taylor Cooper, speaking from the agency’s offices in Kearny Mesa, noted that a memorial ceremony is set for next week to honor California’s fallen officers. He was thankful that “Tony didn’t have to make that sacrifice.”

“This community wasn’t gonna let it happen. And that’s what I’m grateful for,” Cooper said.

Supporters also have launched a GoFundMe page to help Pacheco, a father of two whose wife is expecting another child. As of Thursday afternoon, the effort had reached $9,912 of the $25,000 goal.

The events that led to the shooting began about 6:15 p.m. Wednesday, when Du crashed his vehicle on eastbound I-8 near the Interstate 805 overpass, according to the CHP.

A short time later, Pacheco, a seven-year veteran, responded to the wreck. The officer pulled over on the freeway to touch base with Du, who was standing in a center median, CHP spokesman Jake Sanchez said.

As the patrolman spoke with him, Du allegedly attacked him without warning, “lunging for his service gun” and trying “to take control of it,” Sanchez said.

The two men grappled over the pistol and it went off, wounding Pacheco in the thigh. Taylor said Pacheco was able to use his handheld radio to issue a shots fired call and that passersby called 911 too.

Interstate 8
CHP Capt. Taylor Cooper provides an update on the condition of Tony Pacheco, wounded in the line of duty Wednesday Photo credit: Screen shot, @10News, via Twitter

“The struggle (then) continued, at which point several passing motorists stopped to assist the injured officer by providing medical aid and restraining Du until additional law enforcement (personnel) arrived,” Sanchez added.

Paramedics took Pacheco to Scripps Mercy Hospital, where he was admitted in stable condition. Cooper said he may be released by the hospital within two days.

Commenting on the violent encounter, CHP Chief Scott Parker said he was “extremely grateful for the members of the public who put themselves in harm’s way to help our officer after he was shot in the leg.”

“This incident could have ended in a greater tragedy had those individuals not intervened,” he added.

Du – who NBC San Diego reported is a UC San Diego graduate student – was booked into San Diego Central Jail on suspicion of attempted murder of a peace officer, assault with a firearm causing great bodily injury and attempting to take a law officer’s gun. His arraignment is scheduled for Friday.

Meanwhile, the CHP was forced to confront an additional trauma, after three officers in the Los Angeles area suffered injuries in a crash early Thursday.

The collision, caused by a SUV driver suspected of DUI, occurred on the 105 freeway in Downey, and left a CHP vehicle engulfed in flames. A male and a female officer in the car each suffered moderate injuries, but another officer standing outside the car was struck as it spun out after the initial crash.

The officers had been responding to a separate crash when the driver, who was arrested, allegedly struck the CHP car.

– Staff and wire reports

Updated 6:40 p.m. April 28, 2022