Man arrested after exchanging gunfire with SBPD employee during Ortega Hwy road rage incident

LAKE ELSINORE, Calif. — Authorities say a road rage incident involving an off-duty San Bernardino Police Department employee ended with gunfire being exchanged between two drivers Saturday evening, Feb. 20, and the later arrest of a Mission Viejo man.

Officials did not specify if the SBPD employee was an officer or civilian after the shooting, which happened along Hwy 74 – the Ortega Highway – just west of Decker Canyon Road in an unincorporated area of Lake Elsinore.


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California Highway Patrol was notified regarding the incident and shootings around 7:45 p.m., CHP Officer Mike Lassig has since reported.

During their subsequent investigation, CHP learned both drivers were traveling eastbound on SR-74 when an unspecified altercation occurred between the two men.

A Mission Viejo man was arrested for attempted murder and other charges after exchanging gunfire with an off-duty San Bernardino Police Department employee during a road rage incident in Lake Elsinore Sunday evening. Johnny Lopez/Lone Wolf Media – OnScene TV photo

“During the highway violence incident, the suspect came to an abrupt stop in the eastbound traffic lane,” Lassig described.

“The victim, an off-duty San Bernardino Police employee, observed the suspect point a handgun toward him from the driver’s side window,” Lassig continued; adding, “The victim observed gunshots come from the suspect’s handgun.”

The suspect, later identified as Keith Frederick Prante, 34, of Mission Viejo, then fled in an easterly direction on the Ortega Highway.

Although the victim initially lost sight of the fleeing vehicle, he was able to provide CHP with the suspect’s license plate number.

“A few miles east of the incident, the victim observed the suspect vehicle stopped on the right shoulder of SR-74. Fearing for his safety, the victim stopped just west of the suspect’s location,” Lassig described; adding, “The victim observed the suspect produce a handgun out the driver’s side window and begin to reverse towards the victim’s location.”

“Fearing for his life”, the victim fired his legally owned and possessed handgun toward the suspect, said Lassig.

After the exchange of gunfire, Prante fled eastbound toward the City of Lake Elsinore.

The victim then traveled down SR-74 into the City of Lake Elsinore and called 911 to report the incident.

Despite searching for Prante, CHP officers and Riverside County sheriff’s deputies were not able to immediately locate the alleged gunman.


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Based on information provided by the victim, Prante was located at his Mission Viejo residence in the 1000 block of Los Alitos around 8 a.m. the next morning. He was arrested without incident, according to Lassig.

After his apprehension, Prante was booked into Cois Byrd Detention Center in Murrieta on suspicion of attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon/firearm, and brandishing a firearm.

Online jail records indicate Prante remains in custody in lieu of $1 million bail or bond and is scheduled to be arraigned at Murrieta’s Southwest Justice Center tomorrow, Feb. 24.

CHP – Temecula Area is conducting this investigation, which is active and ongoing.

Anyone with information regarding this investigation is encouraged to contact CHP at (951) 506-2000. Callers can refer to incident file number F017-685-21 and can remain anonymous.

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Contact the writer:

Trevor Montgomery, 49, moved in 2017 to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source (RCNS) and Shasta County News Source (SCNS).

Additionally, he writes or has written for several other news organizations; including Riverside County-based newspapers Valley News, Valley Chronicle, Anza Valley Outlook, and Hemet & San Jacinto Chronicle; the Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County; and Mountain Echo in Shasta County. He is also a regular contributor to Thin Blue Line TV and Law Enforcement News Network and has had his stories featured on news stations throughout the Southern California and North State regions.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 30 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 18 grandchildren.


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