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If Convicted, Suspect in CHP Officer’s Death Could Face Over a Decade Behind Bars

SOUTH SACRAMENTO -- Balloons, candles and notes mark the spot where a South Sacramento CHP officer lost his life Wednesday.

Investigators believe Alberto Quiroz is the man Officer Lucas Chellew was chasing down Fruitridge Road before the veteran officer crashed into a pole.

"To see a mugshot and it's a familiar face, God it's just a wake up call," said security supervisor Christopher Peterson.

The 26-year-old suspect was a familiar face to employees and security guards at Hollywood Market and Liquor store, steps from the scene of the crash.

"He comes once in a while," said liquor store employee Mohander Deol.

"He didn't seem like a malicious criminal or anything like that, he would just come in here purchase a beer every now and again and go about his way," Peterson said.

Quiroz faces three felonies and a misdemeanor for evading a police officer, vehicle theft, possession of a stolen vehicle and resisting arrest.

If convicted he could spend a long time behind bars.

"He could be looking at double digits as far as the number of years in prison," said criminal defense attorney Steve Plesser.

Plesser says as new evidence is uncovered, it's likely Quiroz's charges could change.

"It's possible that on Monday you'll see completely different charges, including possibly murder, possibly vehicular manslaughter," Plesser said. "Or they might just stick with the charges they have and wait to see the rest of their investigation how it turns out."

As Quiroz awaits his first court appearance Monday, some in South Sacramento are still grappling with a loss of an officer, which they say could have been prevented.

"He should have just pulled over," Peterson said. "He should have pulled over once the police got behind him...could have prevented a lot of this from happening,"

Quiroz is being held at the Sacramento County Jail on $575,000 bail.