California deputy survives shooting; suspect arrested

HESPERIA, Calif. (AP) — A Southern California sheriff's deputy was shot in the chest Thursday but his body armor stopped the bullet and a robbery suspect was later arrested, authorities said.

San Bernardino County sheriff's Deputy Patrick Higgins, 25, confronted the driver of a car near a Chevron station at around 12:30 a.m., more than an hour after the clerk there reported being beaten and robbed, sheriff's officials said.

The car matched the description of the robber's, and the deputy repeatedly ordered the driver to show his hands and get out of the car but he refused, according to a Sheriff's Department statement.

Higgins then pepper-sprayed the driver and the man opened fire.

One bullet hit the deputy in the chest but it was stopped by his body armor. He managed to return to his patrol SUV and fire back, authorities said.

Several shots shattered the SUV's windshield.

The deputy chased the Chrysler 200 for about two miles before he stopped because of pain from the trauma to his chest, authorities said.

The deputy was treated at a hospital and released.

Kenneth Welch, 37, of Redlands was later arrested at his home on suspicion of strong-arm robbery and the attempted murder of a peace officer. It was unclear whether he had an attorney.

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