Citizen Staff Writer
By DAVID L. TEIBEL
The man who tried to shoot a state undercover officer last week shot himself Saturday morning as an officer and a deputy moved in to capture him, a Pima County sheriff’s detective sergeant said yesterday.
Tucson police earlier said they believed the man, Jose Roberto Solano, 22, was shot by a Tucson undercover officer near North Swan Road and East Skyline Drive.
Police said they had thought Solano fired at the Tucson officer, who returned fire with one shot.
Solano shot himself in the head, sheriff’s Detective Sgt. Brad Foust said.
Solano was a Mexican citizen here illegally, sheriff’s Detective Lt. Michael G. O’Connor said.
He was supposed to report to federal immigration authorities for deportation proceedings in June but never did, O’Connor said.
In addition to being a suspect in the attempted murder of the state Department of Public Safety undercover officer, Solano was an investigative lead in several other cases, Robinson said.
Those cases include drive-by shootings, home invasions and drug activity, Robinson said.
The only law officers near Solano when he was killed were the Tucson officer and the deputy who were trying to capture him, said Deputy Dawn Barkman, a sheriff’s spokeswoman.
Foust said neither officer saw Solano kill himself and an autopsy showed the self-inflicted “contact wound,” Foust said.
“I don’t know why he did it. I can guess it was because he was trapped, but the bottom line is we don’t know why,” Barkman said.
The case is being investigated by sheriff’s detectives because the shooting was in the unincorporated county patrolled by deputies.
Police on Thursday launched a massive manhunt for Solano, saying he tried to kill an undercover state officer assigned to the multiagency Counter Narcotics Alliance.
While the officer was watching a home near North Silverbell Road and West Sweetwater Drive, Solano came up to the officer’s unmarked pickup, put a gun to the officer’s head and said something to the effect of “I know you’re a cop,” Tucson police Sgt. Mark Robinson said.
The officer heard the pistol click twice as Solano pulled the trigger, but the gun did not fire, either because it was defective or a bullet was not in the firing chamber, Robinson said earlier.
The officer got out of the truck and ran for cover while Solano got his gun to fire. The two men traded shots until Solano stole the officer’s truck, Robinson said.
On Saturday, officers were watching an apartment complex near Sunrise and Swan as part of the manhunt and saw Solano and another man driving from the area.
They pursued the car until its driver stopped nearby on Camino Culiacan, a Catalina Foothills dead-end street.
Solano ran from the car, leaving an assault rifle behind, and the man who was with him, Armando Medrano, 19, also ran but was soon captured and arrested on kidnapping charges, officers said.
The police officer and the deputy ran after Solano, chasing him some 200 yards before the shooting started, Robinson said.
Foust said the officer and deputy followed his tracks in a wash.
The two officers eventually went up one side of the wash, but Solano had gone up the other side and hid in tall grass, Foust said.
The lawmen heard a single shot, thought Solano was firing at the police officer and that officer fired one shot, Foust said.
Another deputy converging on the area found Solano’s body, Foust said. No officers were hurt.
The family of the man whose kidnapping was at the root of the Thursday gun fight has called police to say the man has returned, Robinson said.