SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – Alex Ladwig, a 25-year-old Sacramento County sheriff’s deputy, was working a routine evening rush hour shift at a mass transit station when, without warning, he found himself fighting for his life.
The four-year sheriff’s department veteran was alone and working overtime when he approached 27-year-old Nicory Marquis Spann on the Sacramento station’s lower level shortly before 6 p.m. Tuesday. It’s not clear why he did so, but Ladwig soon radioed his colleagues for help, saying he was in a fight.
Moments later, he radioed he’d been shot.
The unprovoked attack triggered an hours-long manhunt that snarled interstate traffic, forced dozens of bystanders to flee a nearby hotel, and ended with Spann surrendering in a hotel alcove after he was spotted by a remote-controlled police robot, authorities said Wednesday.
Ladwig was recovering in a hospital Wednesday after being shot in the face with his own gun.
Spann, of Sacramento, was jailed without bail on suspicion of attempted murder of a sheriff’s deputy. Officials could not say if Spann had an attorney or will be assigned one when he first appears on court on Friday.
Sheriff’s department spokesman Sgt. Tony Turnbull said Spann attacked the deputy without being provoked and wrestled away his gun, firing twice. One bullet struck Spann in the jaw.
More than 100 officers from multiple agencies began swarming the area within minutes of Ladwig’s distress calls. Fire trucks and ambulances soon followed. A sheriff’s department helicopter arrived overhead so fast that deputies spotted Spann running into a nearby Red Roof Inn.
“Once you put out over the radio that you’re fighting somebody, immediately officers are usually responding,” Turnbull said.
“We were in the Starbucks (across the street from the hotel) and were told by police to evacuate immediately,” witness Tori Brant told The Sacramento Bee. “Police said they were preparing for a shootout.”
Dozens of hotel guests were evacuated, and others were warned to stay locked inside their rooms while a special weapons and tactics team went door to door in search of the suspect.
“When you’re dealing with a building that has several stories, it becomes an even more tactically difficult situation,” Turnbull said. “You have to take one room at a time, one floor at a time. Your eyes have to be everywhere.”
Deputies brought in a remotely-controlled bomb disposal robot, a multi-wheeled contraption equipped with an extendable arm and four cameras.
The robot spotted Spann hiding in an alcove located in an outside hallway of the motel about 9:15 p.m. Deputies were able to talk to Spann through the robot, convincing him to surrender without further incident.
Ladwig’s duties at the bus and light rail station along Interstate 80 in northeast Sacramento included checking fares and dealing with loiterers or people who appear to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
He was talking as he was rushed away by ambulance – “always a good sign,” Turnbull said. His jaw was surgically repaired and he was in stable condition at Mercy San Juan Medical Center Wednesday.
His injury “will undoubtedly take months to fully heal,” according to a GoFundMe account set up by a family friend that had collected more than $12,000 Wednesday.
“Alex’s savage will to survive and refusal to accept the hand he had been dealt no doubt was instrumental in saving his own life that day, along with the quick response of his partners who he’s closely worked side by side,” wrote the friend, Steve Frontana.