... 9578c.html

Officer shot dead, extending CHP's string of tragedies
By M.S. Enkoji -- Bee Staff Writer
Published 2:15 am PST Saturday, February 18, 2006
A California Highway Patrol officer who was shot and killed Friday during an early morning traffic stop in Stanislaus County was the agency's fifth on-duty patrolman to die in as many months.

The body of Officer Earl Scott, 36, was found in his car by a passing motorist on Highway 99 near Ripon, about 10 miles north of Modesto. The motorist had turned back to check on the patrol car after witnessing Scott's shooting, according to the Associated Press.

A 30-year-old Stockton man, who walked into the Stockton Police Department four hours after the 4:40 a.m. shooting, was arrested Friday evening after questioning by Stanislaus County sheriff's detectives.

Columbus Junior Allen II was booked on suspicion of homicide, said Stanislaus County Assistant Sheriff Mark Puthuff.

Puthuff declined to elaborate on a motive. Authorities had been looking for a 1990 dark green Nissan Maxima with license plate 5KWA335. By Friday afternoon, investigators had cordoned off the north Stockton home of the registered owner of the car.

Scott, a five-year veteran and the son of a CHP officer, was the second CHP officer to be shot and killed during a traffic stop in the past three months.

"It's been happening too frequently. Of course, any time it happens it's a devastating loss," Rick Mattos, president of the California Association of Highway Patrolmen, told the Associated Press. The union, which represents 13,000 active and retired CHP officers, may try to name a section of highway after Scott, Mattos told the AP.

"Every officer knows that it could have been them," Mattos said.

On Nov. 17, Andy Stevens, 37, of Roseville was making an afternoon traffic stop on a country road in Yolo County west of Woodland when he was gunned down.

Brendt Volarvich, 20, and Gregory Zielesch, 47, were indicted in January on murder charges by a Yolo County grand jury. Neither has entered a plea.

Prosecutors say Volarvich may have shot Stevens during a traffic stop while on his way to fullfill a murder-for-hire contract. Zielesch is charged with providing the firearm.

The three other officers died in traffic incidents.

On New Year's Eve, Lt. Michael Walker was struck by a motorist while setting out flares to control traffic at an accident site near Santa Cruz. He later died in a hospital.

Just 10 days earlier, Officer Erick Manny was pursing a vehicle on Interstate 5 near the Tejon Pass in Kern County when he swerved to avoid a truck and rolled down an embankment. The vehicle being pursued, a black sports car, has yet to be found.

Motorcycle Officer David M. Romero was waiting at a stoplight on Sept. 23 in the city of Industry near Los Angeles when a car rammed him from behind.

The string of on-duty deaths is the worst for the agency in a decade. Five officers were killed in 1996, three in one month. All five incidents were in Southern California, and all but one involved motor-vehicle incidents.

A spokeswoman for the CHP said the string of deaths prompted the agency to analyze the incidents for possible changes in policy, but the circumstances varied too much to reach any conclusions.

"We've got five different sets of facts," said Fran Clader, a CHP spokeswoman.

The northbound lanes of Highway 99 were closed at the site of Scott's shooting until about 1 p.m. while investigators worked.