Suspect with Lengthy Criminal History Shot by Officer in Citrus Heights

CITRUS HEIGHTS -- A 24-year-old man was taken to the hospital early Sunday morning after a Citrus Heights police officer shot him during an altercation in a motel parking lot.

The shooting occurred around 2:45 a.m. Sunday near the 6200 block of Auburn Boulevard, Lt. Dave Gutierrez with the Citrus Heights Police Department confirmed.

Gutierrez said the officer approached a man and a woman in the parking lot of a nearby motel. As the officer searched the man, the suspect resisted and ran from the officer, according to police.

The suspect has been identified as Nickolas Russo, who, according to police, has a lengthy criminal history, including car theft, burglary and firearm possession.

The officer then chased Russo, later firing a gun toward him, striking the suspect in his upper torso, Gutierrez said.

The man was taken to a nearby hospital and is in stable condition, police said. He was later found to be in possession of a loaded handgun.

Jacob Austin took FOX40 to a spot where he could see over his apartment complex's wall into the scene of the shooting.

"The Ranch Motel... " he said. "People are stupid enough to keep going over there, and they keep getting in trouble."

Austin said when he heard shots Saturday night he knew they were coming from there.

"That motel, they have drug problems over there all the time," Austin said. "I see cops in there protecting people, keeping it safe, keeping the drugs out of the area."

It is unknown whether Russo pulled out the gun in the time leading up to the officer firing his gun. Gutierrez could not provide details on what prompted the officer to fire his weapon toward the suspect.

The woman spotted with the suspect during the initial interaction was detained, but not arrested, according to Gutierrez.

It is unclear why the officer approached the man and woman in the first place.

The officer involved in the shooting has been placed on paid administrative leave, Gutierrez said. The shooting is being investigated by the Sacramento County District Attorney's Office and the police department's Investigative Services Division.

As crime scene technicians collected evidence and took measurements many passing by, like Lindsey Gibson, stopped to see what was going on.

"I was on my way to church this morning, and then I realized I couldn't turn left coming out of the neighborhood," Gibson said.

According to Citrus Heights police, Russo has been placed under arrest for possessing a firearm as a convicted felon, resisting an officer and violating his probation and parole.

Because of the shooting, Auburn Boulevard between Greenback Lane and Charwood Lane is expected to be closed until 11:30 a.m. Sunday.

Those with information regarding the shooting are asked to contact the Citrus Heights Police Department.