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Ventura County Sheriff's/Fire Helicopter Targeted By Gunfire

(KCLU photo)
Ventura County Sheriff's investigators say one of the county's new Firehawk helicopters was targeted by gunfire from the ground Wednesday. No one was hurt.

Arrest made after hours-long manhunt.

Ventura County sheriff’s deputies say a routine training mission for one of the county’s helicopters turned dangerous when someone on the ground opened fire on it.

Ventura County’s new Firehawk Copter 4 at Las Casitas was training at Lake Casitas Wednesday night. The crew received a radio call that someone on the ground saw someone else firing shots. They immediately turned off all of the helicopter’s running lights, and took the aircraft up to a higher altitude.

Ventura County Sheriff’s Captain Eric Buschow said the crew had noticed one car in the remote area. They followed it as it left the scene and was parked by the driver in an Oak View neighborhood.

“The suspect got out of the vehicle, and fired several more shots at the helicopter,” said Buschow.

The man fled on foot. After an all-night search involving a SWAT team Joshua Chimarusti of Oak View was arrested without incident.

No one in the helicopter was hurt. A later inspection of the aircraft showed it was undamaged.

Investigators aren’t looking into what they think led to the attack. The 44-year-old man is facing charges ranging from attempted murder to shooting at an aircraft.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.