The convicted felon who gunned down a California Highway Patrol officer and wounded two others unleashed a barrage of bullets for “several minutes” before a Riverside policeman managed to kill him, according to findings released Friday from a preliminary investigation conducted by the Riverside Police Department.
Aaron Luther, 49, of Beaumont fatally shot CHP Officer Andre Moye Jr., 34, of Moreno Valley shortly after the motorcycle patrolman and a backup officer in another unit stopped the ex-con for an unspecified traffic violation in the area of Box Springs Boulevard and Eastridge Avenue, just west of Interstate 215, according to police.
“During that stop, the lone suspect produced a weapon and fired at Officer Moye, severely injuring him,” said agency spokesman Officer Ryan Railsback. “The backup CHP officer … immediately took gunfire from the suspect and returned fire. He called for assistance during the gunfight and was also struck, which caused a critical injury to one of his legs.”
Railsback confirmed that multiple CHP officers and Riverside County sheriff’s deputies converged on the scene after the distress call went out, engaging Luther, who was armed with a semiautomatic rifle that he had pulled from his GMC pickup.
“The exchange of gunfire between the suspect and law enforcement continued for several minutes, resulting in a third CHP officer being struck,” Railsback said. “An RPD officer arrived to the west of the suspect and exchanged gunfire with him. The suspect was severely injured, causing him to stop his attack.”
Moye was retrieved by an RPD helicopter crew, who flew him to Riverside University Medical Center in Moreno Valley, where he was pronounced dead minutes later.
The CHP officer shot in the leg and the third officer, who suffered superficial wounds, were also taken to the county hospital. The latter was treated and released hours later. The officer with the critical wound remains hospitalized in stable condition, according to Railsback.
He said first responders provided treatment to Luther at the scene, but he was pronounced dead on arrival at the medical center.
“His criminal history includes prior prison commitment for attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon against a peace officer, along with other violent crimes,” Railsback said.
A motive for the attack remains unclear, but Luther’s father, Dennis Luther, told reporters that he believed his son may have been bent on committing suicide by cop.
Railsback did not know when the investigation would be completed.
A public memorial service for Moye is scheduled for 10 a.m. Tuesday at Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside. A private funeral will be held immediately following the memorial.
Harvest was the same location in April where final respects were paid to CHP Sgt. Steve Licon, who was Moye’s colleague at the Riverside Area Office. Licon was mowed down by an alleged drunk driver while working extra duty on his motorcycle unit in Lake Elsinore.
The CHP had planned to hold a celebration Wednesday marking the 90th anniversary of the agency, but those plans were canceled following Moye’s death. A solemn bell-tolling end-of-watch ceremony presided over by CHP Commissioner Warren Stanley was held instead.
“Officer Moye epitomizes what a CHP officer should always be — a dedicated and selfless public servant,” Stanley said. “He will not be forgotten.”
Moye graduated the CHP Academy in March 2017. He is survived by his wife Sara, father, mother, stepfather, brothers and sisters.
A memorial account has been established for the family at the California Association of Highway Patrolmen Credit Union. Donations are being accepted online at cahpcu.org/OfficerAndreMoyeJrMemorialFund. They may also be mailed directly to CAHP Credit Union, P.O. Box 276507, Sacramento, CA 95826. Donors should put “Attention Officer Andre Moye Jr Memorial Fund.”
Flowers and other condolences are being accepted at the fallen lawman’s CHP station, at 8118 Lincoln Ave., Riverside, CA 92504.