Identity of Suspect Shot by Off-Duty CHP Officer Released

Mario Enrique Penton, 26, of Moreno Valley, is believed to be the suspect shot after a CHP officer allegedly caught him trying to steal patio furniture.

The name and booking photo of a suspected thief who was shot by an off-duty CHP officer early Tuesday in Murrieta were released today.

Mario Enrique Penton, 26, of Moreno Valley, is being held on $250,000 bail today while still recovering from his gunshot wounds in an inmate's hospital ward, according to Murrieta police Capt. Dennis Vrooman.

Police believe Penton was shot at about 3:33 a.m. Tuesday in the 27000 block of Wedgewood Way in Murrieta, when the department received several phone calls regarding gunshots heard, Vrooman said in a news release.

"Officers responded to the scene and discovered the source of the gunshots was from an off-duty California Highway Patrol (CHP) officer who had interrupted a theft in progress near his home," Vrooman said.

"The CHP officer was awoken to the sounds of dogs barking and went outside to investigate."

According to police, the officer saw a man in front of his neighbor’s house actively stealing patio furniture and was allegedly attempting to load the items onto his awaiting gray Dodge Dakota pick-up truck, which was parked and idling in the street. 

"The officer walked up to the suspect and asked what he was doing," Vrooman said. "The suspect lied and told the officer he lived at the location."

The officer then identified himself to the suspect as an off-duty law enforcement officer, police said.

"The officer saw the suspect reach into his pockets and then also his vehicle. As the suspect reached inside his pick-up truck, the officer saw the suspect grab for what appeared to be a chrome-colored handgun and quickly displayed it at the officer," Vrooman said.

"Based upon the suspect’s actions and fearing for his own safety, the officer discharged his firearm several times at the suspect and his vehicle."

How many rounds were fired was still under investigation, police said.

Penton then got into his vehicle and left the scene, according to Vrooman.

"Arriving Murrieta officers set up an immediate containment of the area but were unable to locate the suspect or his vehicle," he said.

At around 4:20 a.m., Murrieta police were notified there was a gunshot victim who had arrived at the Riverside County Regional Medical Center in Moreno Valley, Vrooman said.

The man suffered several non-life threatening gunshot wounds to one of his legs, Vrooman said.

"Based upon the injuries sustained, this person was believed to be the outstanding suspect," Vrooman said.

His truck was later located at another location in Moreno Valley, police said.

Police believe Penton abandoned his truck and that another person drove him to RCRMC and dropped him off for treatment of his injuries. 

"The truck was found to have several bullet holes which corresponded to the evidence at the scene," Vrooman said. "The suspect admitted to being at the Murrieta location at the time of the shooting."

While Penton remains hospitalized, he has been booked through the Robert Presley Detention Center on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon against a peace officer, receiving stolen property, petty theft with prior convictions and obstructing/resisting an officer, Vrooman said.

He added that Penton has extensive arrests and convictions for illegal drugs and thefts. 

The name of the CHP officer, who works out of a San Diego County CHP office, will not be released by the Murrieta Police Department, Vrooman said. 

The CHP San Diego office could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday.

Murrieta police continue their investigation into the incident and asked anyone with further information to call Detective Sgt. Phil Gomez at 951-461-6356.

Isela Gomez January 05, 2012 at 04:24 AM
He drove over 20 miles for patio furniture? I wonder if he was selling drugs to someone in that area? Drug deal gone wrong? I thought Greer Ranch was a gated community? I've been there twice for softball parties and both times we had to call to get in. Hmmmmm!
simple January 05, 2012 at 05:05 AM
It's down the hill from Greer
simple January 05, 2012 at 05:06 AM
Hopefully this is a lesson learned for this Moreno Valley thugs!
JJ Mclure January 05, 2012 at 02:42 PM
Brian January 05, 2012 at 08:21 PM
JJ get a life!!! Every comment you make is not worthy of anything. I think you are a miserable human being trying to vent your personal frustrations. Time to grow up and do something constructive. KEEP YOUR RASIST COMMENTS TO YOURSELF.
Rob January 05, 2012 at 09:13 PM
the City has an appetite for big salaries, esp cops. They will "recruit" criminals with low income housing. Look at the last Chief 200K in salary, sures the city when he leaves back to hermosa.
Joe Law January 05, 2012 at 09:56 PM
Rob, Don't be jealous silly....retards like you have a place in the city too.....the ADA guarantees you equal access. C'mon down man....let's see what you bring to the table besides several chins and a bad attitude.
Rob January 05, 2012 at 11:10 PM
Come on down ... where and when?
Joe Law January 05, 2012 at 11:31 PM
City Hall man....any day of the week. Just ask for a job application. I'm sure you have plenty to offier the city, like talent, raw ambition, skills, can do work ethic....the list goes on I'm sure.
Rob January 06, 2012 at 12:37 AM
Can I count on you for a solid reference? I am going for City Manager, anything else is beneath my skillset. Wait, what does a clerk do for $118K? hhhmmmmm Hi Mayor, can you meet with Police Chief tomorrow at 3? Oh, golfing... OK. Friday? Let me check. Hi Chief, is Friday good? Sorry, I forgot, you do not work on Fridays. Next week, Tuesday, open all day.. got it. Hi Mayor, the Chief is available all day Tuesday. First thing when you arrive? OK, in the books. Hi Chief, OK Tuesday at 11. See you then.... sure, bring donuts. Hangs up phone and goes back to filing. CL comes before LO and after AB. {ring} Sure, I will stamp that. Bring it over. STAMP! OK, where was I.... CL comes before LO and .... {beep on watch} .. union break time. 45 minutes later {ring} Hi Honey.. No I will be late, have to catch up on my filing. Remember to record CSI.
Anonymous January 06, 2012 at 07:08 AM
Are you really grown adults arguing about something stupid like this. Whoever makes a certain amount of money clearly worked for it and had to build up to get to that position so it didn't come easy. And there is no reason to call anybody a retard no matter what. Us teens are supposed to look up to u and look what we hav to look up to....u all say we r stupid....but ur the ppl that raised us
JJ Mclure January 06, 2012 at 02:39 PM
at least the chief is here legally
Rob January 06, 2012 at 09:09 PM
Us adults are debating the amount of pay provided govt workers to avoid higher taxation. This has a direct impact on what we can provide our children. I suggest you compare the Temecula pay rates to Murrieta for your next econ paper.
Zo 951 January 07, 2012 at 06:33 AM
Fuck all yall if you dont know him then dont judge him he is a friend an a good guy just caught up in stuff so suck it easy an have a nice day
Tdoe January 07, 2012 at 06:38 AM
Yup.. What happend he got shot for stealing a chair...
Donna January 07, 2012 at 07:37 AM
zo951 I dont feel you need to use such a four letter word. Its not needed.
Joe Law January 09, 2012 at 11:44 PM
Haters gotta hate and losers gotta blame everyone else for their problems. I take it you have no skills? Well, that's no one else's fault but yours genius. Now, what's your name on World of Warcraft so we can team up and kick ass?
Rob January 09, 2012 at 11:52 PM
My name? Jo, Joe's momma knows.


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