Shootout at South Bay Marijuana Grow

At the site between Gilroy and Watsonville, two men confronted deputies before two members of the marijuana eradication team fired shots at the men, who then ran off.

By Sasha Lekach
|  Friday, Jun 29, 2012  |  Updated 6:37 PM PDT
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NBC Bay Area's George Kiriyama reports from Mount Madonna Park near Gilroy that a shootout with marijuana growers has campers in the area on edge. Santa Clara sheriff's officers confronted two men. Both fled the scene and one is still on the loose.

NBC Bay Area's George Kiriyama reports from Mount Madonna Park near Gilroy that a shootout with marijuana growers has campers in the area on edge. Santa Clara sheriff's officers confronted two men. Both fled the scene and one is still on the loose.

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A man who was shot and injured by Santa Clara County deputies in a confrontation at a marijuana growing site in an area between Gilroy and Watsonville Thursday has been identified as a Morgan Hill resident, officials said today.

Alvaro Sanchez, 24, was arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, commission of a felony while armed with a firearm, unlawful cultivation of marijuana and possession of marijuana for sale, according to Sheriff's Office Sgt. Jose Cardoza.

Alvarez was shot Thursday around 11:45 a.m., when members of the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office's marijuana eradication team, also known as MET, were hiking with state Department of Fish and Game officials a few miles south of state Highway 152 and Whitehurst Road, Cardoza said.

They came across a marijuana cultivation site, where they were allegedly confronted by two men. MET members including Deputy Justin Harper and a Fish and Game warden fired shots at the two men, who fled the area, Cardoza said.

A large-scale search, which included personnel from the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office SWAT team and the California Highway Patrol, continued for hours until Sanchez was found just south of where the shooting occurred, Cardoza said.

Sanchez suffered a non life-threatening gunshot wound to one of his arms, and remains hospitalized. He will be booked into Santa Clara County Jail on his release.

The second suspect was not found in the search and remains at large. He has been described only as a Hispanic male adult, and investigators are still working to identify him, Cardoza said.

The marijuana cultivation site is estimated to contain around 3,400 plants, with a street value of approximately $10.2 million.

Anyone with information is asked to call sheriff's investigators at (408) 808-4500 or to remain anonymous, call (408) 808-4431.

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