Gunshots, flashing emergency lights, and a hovering helicopter alarmed Benicia residents as police engaged in a shootout on Interstate 780 following an attempted traffic stop Friday. 

The shooting resulted in the hours-long closure of the freeway but no injuries, according to the Benicia Police Department. Officers arrested Jovan Bryce Dickerson, 33, and David Ochoa Magana, 39, and recovered a firearm from the scene, police said. Both men are being held without bail at the Solano County Jail in Fairfield, according to public records. 

Magana was booked on two counts of attempted murder, one count of attempted carjacking, and seven other felony charges, according to the Solano County Sheriff’s Office, while Dickerson faces three felony weapons and probation-related charges. 

The incident began around 9:22 p.m. Friday when Benicia’s automated license plate reader system alerted police to the location of a vehicle that was allegedly involved in a previous armed robbery, according to a statement published Saturday by the Benicia Police Department. 

Officers located the vehicle and attempted a traffic stop, but the suspects fled onto Interstate 780 and fired shots at officers as they drove away, according to police. The vehicle crashed at the bottom of the eastbound offramp at Military West, where police took one person into custody. 

A second person fled on foot toward the freeway, firing multiple shots at pursuing officers, according to police. Officers returned fire, but the suspect made his way to dense foliage in the freeway median, where he was eventually located by a California Highway Patrol helicopter and taken into custody.

The commotion prompted concern among residents living near the interstate. 

Jessica Raine, a 66-year-old Benicia resident, walked into her small backyard overlooking the freeway offramp when her dogs became agitated and began barking more than usual. 

“I saw the lights and everything, and I thought, ‘Oh, I guess they pulled somebody over,’” she said. “All of a sudden, I hear, ‘No, no, no!’ and then I hear shots firing.” 

Raine ran back inside with her dogs but returned to the yard when she thought it was safe and began recording video. She said she saw a man walking slowly out of the bushes and down the main lanes of the interstate toward police with his hands up. 

The man lay flat on the ground while police ordered him to stay still. Several officers then approached and surrounded the man before handcuffing him, according to footage Raine shared with Open Vallejo. 

Law enforcement officers arrest a man following a shootout with Benicia, Calif. police on March 15, 2024. Video courtesy Jessica Raine.

“I’m glad nobody got hurt,” Raine said. “It freaked me out. I live right above that exit and I see cops pulling people over all the time. I always thought, oh my god, one of these days I’m going to see a shooting. And sure enough, I did.” 

Marilyn Schaeffer was watching television at her friend’s house in Grove Circle, an apartment complex overlooking the freeway, when she heard the CHP helicopter circling overhead. 

She stepped outdoors but retreated back inside when she heard three gunshots. Rumors soon began to circulate in calls between neighbors and on social media, including posts warning people about an additional armed woman on the loose. 

“It was pretty frightening,” Schaeffer said. “We didn’t know what was going on.” 

Officers searched the brush for a third person but determined that there were only two men in the car, according to Benicia police.

Schaeffer waited several hours before driving home that night. She later learned the details of the incident and said she was glad it ended with arrests and no injuries. 

“It’s a miracle nobody got hit,” she said. 

Members of seventeen law enforcement agencies from surrounding cities and counties responded to Benicia’s call for assistance, including officers from Vallejo, Vacaville, and Fairfield, deputies from the Solano, Contra Costa, and Napa county sheriff’s offices, as well as CHP officers, according to Benicia police.

The Solano County District Attorney’s Major Crimes Task Force is leading the investigation into the shooting.

Anna Bauman is an investigative reporter with Open Vallejo.

Geoffrey King is the executive editor of Open Vallejo. Prior to founding Open Vallejo, Geoffrey worked as an attorney and journalist focused on free expression, open government, press freedom and privacy. He is a proud native of Vallejo, California.