RVer Safety: Man fatally shot by rangers at California State Park

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By Mike Sherman

A man shooting a gun in Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park was fatally shot by park rangers late Saturday [June 22], according to state park officials. Park rangers responded to reports of gunshots at the park after Kevin Alaniz, 26, of Milpitas, yelled out and began shooting a 10 mm Glock, according to a statement from California State Parks.

It’s unclear who or what he was shooting at, and no one was injured by Alaniz’s gunshots. Responding rangers shot him, and Alaniz died at the scene.

“California State Parks is working closely with the Monterey County Sheriff’s Department, California Highway Patrol and the District Attorney’s Office,” the statement read. State park officials referred questions to the Monterey County DA. The DA couldn’t be reached for comment Monday and Tuesday.

The park remains open, but as of Sunday afternoon, California State Parks asks visitors “to be mindful that an investigative team is at the scene of the investigation.” Source: KCRA-TV

This story was updated (below) to identify the man shot by park rangers.

If you take a hike, should you take a gun? This story is as scary as an approaching tornado. The initial news release contained very few details. It is rare for a State Parks ranger to get involved in a shooting. Their job sites are not big cities with a lot of criminals running loose. Big Sur, on the central California coast, has to be one of the most beautiful places on earth. Spectacular views, quiet and peaceful, it is one of the gems of the State Parks system. So, you go out for a walk, and someone starts shooting at you? It is hard to imagine, but apparently it does happen.

Here is “the rest of the story” as Paul Harvey would say …

SALINAS — The man who was shot and killed last weekend by rangers at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park has been linked to the fatal shooting death earlier this month of a man on a South Bay freeway, authorities announced Thursday.

Before he was shot by the rangers, Kevin Anthony Alaniz, 26, of Milpitas, fired a handgun at two hikers in the park, according to authorities. The gun and ammunition found on Alaniz and other evidence link him to a fatal shooting on Interstate 680 in Milpitas earlier in the month, authorities said.

Kevin Anthony Alaniz

Details about the two cases were revealed Thursday morning in Salinas during a joint press conference held by the Monterey County District Attorney and the California Highway Patrol.

The South Bay freeway shooting occurred on June 17 just after 10 p.m. The victim, 30-year-old Matthew Rios of Milpitas, was found shot to death behind the wheel of a Toyota stopped in the center median of Interstate 680 near Landess Avenue, according to the CHP.

The CHP shut down northbound 680 between Capitol Avenue and an area north of Landess for about four-and-a-half hours to look for possible evidence of where the shooting occurred. CHP investigators quickly identified Alaniz as a suspect and obtained an arrest warrant for homicide, Lee said.

“The victim and suspect did know each other,” Lee said. “This was a targeted attack.”

Lee would not elaborate on the relationship between Alaniz and Rios, saying the case remains under investigation. “We are very confident that Mr. Alaniz is the sole suspect and the individual responsible for the  shooting on the freeway,” Lee said.

Late Saturday afternoon, a hiker at the state park called 911 to report that man fired several shots at him and a friend, according to Monterey County DA Jeannine M. Pacioni. The two hikers first came upon Alaniz near the summit of the Mt. Manuel Trail. Alaniz approached the two hikers, got into the face of one of them and said, “This is my world,” Pacioni said. The hiker described Alaniz as having very large pupils and displaying erratic behavior.

The hikers turned around and walked away from Alaniz. After walking about one-quarter of a mile, the hikers heard a single gunshot and began moving at a quicker pace. They then heard four or five shots, one of which zoomed past his head and hit a nearby tree, Pacioni said.

The hikers needed 45 minutes to get to the bottom of the trail to get cell phone service and call 911. Three park rangers responded to the scene, and two of the rangers fired a combined nine shots at the suspect. Alaniz was pronounced dead at the scene, Pacioni said.

Authorities determined Alaniz was in possession of a black handgun at the time of his death, which was legally purchased in October of 2017, Pacioni said. He was also wearing a backpack which contained more than 300 rounds of ammunition.

Lee said the ammunition and caliber of gun found in Alaniz’s possession when he was shot “is consistent with the ammunition that was used in the shooting on Interstate 680.” Source: mercurynews.com

A word to the wise … Be careful out there!

Note: We know what we discuss in this column may be controversial. While we invite your polite, constructive comments, inflammatory remarks will be immediately deleted.

Mike Sherman is a retired street cop and investigator with 30+ years of RV experience as a traveler, camp host and all-around advocate for the joys of living on the road. His articles are for general discussion purposes only – you should always consult your local authorities or legal counsel for specific answers if necessary. Write him at MikeShermanPI@gmail.com if you have questions, or leave a comment below. 

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Caroline Odom
11 months ago

Glad the Park Rangers did their job! Good job guys!!! Thankfully the hikers weren’t hurt. One less criminal walking around hurting innocent citizens!

Dry Creek
11 months ago

“After walking about one-quarter of a mile, the hikers heard a single gunshot and began moving at a quicker pace. They then heard four or five shots, one of which zoomed past his head and hit a nearby tree, Pacioni said.”
Hmmm, a quarter mile? That’s 440 yards. YARDS. The effective range for any handgun is a maximum of 25 yards. Skilled shooters can ring steel out to 100 yards fairly regularly. The amount of holdover to keep a 180 grain slug on target at that range would be measured in feet! I know most folks wouldn’t attempt a shot with a rifle past 200 yards. I have tried my hand at some long-range shooting in the past. Doping a 440 yard shot with a 30-06 is challenging. With a 10mm handgun? That sounds impossible.
Something’s not adding up.

SolarSteve
1 year ago

No, the more people firing guns, the more people are injured or killed. And often when police arrive, they conclude anyone they spot with a gun is the subject they received the call about and start shooting. Lets minimize the harm and deaths, follow the law, never shoot at anyone, and leave guns out of public parks.

Caroline Odom
11 months ago
Reply to  SolarSteve

If you had a brain your gun would be put away when the police arrive or yeah there is a good chance you will get shot.

Jim Schrankel
1 year ago

My first thought would be to put as much distance and obstacles between myself and the shooter. Only if cornered and confronted would I consider an armed response.

Alvin
1 year ago

In Canada where the Mrs.’ and I hail from. You are going to die if the bad guy starts firing because here he/she not only by law gets the first shot in but there’re the only ones carrying guns. It is absolutely not allowed for a civilian resident of Canada to carry any form of weapon, and that includes a baseball bat which has been bought for that purpose or a knife. A lot of Canadians die each year in this country because the Socialist regime governing here has made a wonderful playground for the criminal element, who always gets the first shot.

Need proof: I direct your attention to the Stanley/Boushie case in Saskatchewan a couple of years ago. That tragedy is a poster child for what goes on here.

Lou
1 year ago
Reply to  Alvin

Hunting rifles are not restricted. For other guns you need a license. In all my years of camping, I have never felt in danger from “criminal elements”.
Canada is not a socialist country, maybe we could be better if we were.

Ronnie Bolling
1 year ago
Reply to  Lou

Yep, regardless of your opinions, the facts do prove hands down that compared to the USA, Canada is one heck of a safer nation in respect to your odds of being killed in a violent confrontation by a gun:

https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2018/11/09/666209430/deaths-from-gun-violence-how-the-u-s-compares-with-the-rest-of-the-world

19KC69
1 year ago
Reply to  Alvin

Thank God I live in the USA and am able to own weapons.

Greg Illes
1 year ago

Mike, wow, what a bizarre story this is. And one can’t help but wonder how it would have played out, had one or both of those hikers been armed. I’ve asked myself “what would I do?” (if I were packing), and there’s no easy answer. For sure, my first response would be to back away and summon the cops (as they did). But having shots zing in past my head? Would I return fire? I really don’t know.

What this show me is that even arm-chair quarter-backing isn’t always clear; and when right THERE, in the urgency of the moment, things are likely to be even more blurry.

impavid
1 year ago
Reply to  Greg Illes

You need to decide beforehand what you’d do. There is no time to think, only react.