Stories of courage emerge in wake of fatal I-80 shooting

Tales of courage emerge from fatal I-80 shooting
Officer Orlando Guzman is credited with locating, tailing and apprehending three suspects within 15 minutes of the homicide. He is pictured here on Saturday at the 5th annual youth foster care conference in Richmond. (Photo: Mike Kinney)

The community is in mourning following the fatal shooting on Interstate Highway 80 in Richmond last week that claimed the life of 24-year-old Demarcus Doss.

In the wake of the tragedy, stories of courage and heroism have emerged about the Pinole man who gave his life for a friend, a witness who stopped to help and a Richmond police officer whose swift, selfless actions helped solve a homicide case within 15 minutes of the incident.

Doss was driving amid traffic with a female passenger about 3:30 p.m. Thursday when suspects in another car opened fire into his Honda Odyssey minivan, according to the California Highway Patrol. In an online fundraiser launched for Doss’ family in the wake of the killing, loved ones say Doss heroically shielded a female passenger in the car with his body and thus absorbed most of the bullets.

Demarcus Doss

That female friend survived with non life threatening injuries.

“We are not surprised of his actions,”  loved ones said in the account. “He was a man that had a genuine loving and caring heart. “

Soon after the incident, news also emerged about a good Samaritan in a red Volvo who stopped to help the victims, and witnesses were praised by the California Highway Patrol for providing descriptions of the suspects’ vehicle.

As more details come to light, another story of courage has emerged. Minutes after the shooting took place, Officer Orlando Guzman, a school resource officer not assigned to patrol duty, happened to be driving on city streets when he saw a vehicle matching the description that was dispatched, according to police.

He tailed the vehicle in the area of 17th Street and Chanslor Avenue until it stopped at a house. Guzman then made contact with the murder suspects as fellow Richmond officers arrived at the scene to detain them.

CHP: Suspect in I-80 shooting has 'extensive violent criminal history'

The suspects were identified as Elliot Johnson, 24, of Richmond, and two 17-year-old boys. Authorities believe Johnson, who has “an extensive violent criminal history ranging from gun crimes to carjacking,” was driving while one of the juveniles committed the shooting.

Richmond police Officer Felix Tan praised Guzman’s swift-actions, saying he departed from his usual duties as a school resource officer to help make a daring bust.

“He took the time to hunt for this car and found them within 15 minutes of the incident,” Richmond police Lt. Felix Tan said.

Just two days after the incident, Officer Guzman attended a youth foster care conference in Richmond as a representative of the Richmond Police Explorers program.

Investigators are not yet releasing the suspects’ motive in the shooting.


  1. Excellent work Officer Guzman. And it’s so encouraging to see citizens getting involved aiding the police with information and victims with comfort. Seems to have made all the difference here.
    So often these horrible crimes are committed by those with the kind of criminal records that make one wonder why they are even free to walk our streets to begin with. Tragically Demarcus Doss is added to the long list of those senselessly murdered by those who perhaps should have long ago been locked away as a danger to society.
    My sympathies to the victims and all their loved ones.

  2. This should not make citizens concerned for their safety. These shootings are nearly always because of gang and/or drug activity; they are in no way random acts of violence.

    The best way to make sure you are not a shooting victim is to NOT be involved with gangs OR drugs, and not to associate with or give a ride to people who are. And don’t think weed is safe; a LOT of people get shot and killed over weed in the Bay Area.

  3. Excellent work by Officer Guzman! What a stupendous job for Guzman to leave his post and seek out those who committed this crime. It would have likely been near impossible to find them if he had not dropped what he did go search and search for them.

  4. Great work by the RPD! We are blessed with an outstanding police department, and I hope as the city council begins to tackle the 2017-18 budget, which will require some significant spending cuts, they prioritize our men and women in blue, and keep our streets safe.