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Marine on liberty dies in gunbattle with police

Veteran of Falluja fighting did not want to go back to Iraq

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Marine on liberty engages in deadly battle with police in California.
Marine Corps

(CNN) -- A 19-year-old Marine from Ceres, California, shot and killed a police officer and wounded another before dying in a weekend gunbattle.

Investigators said he may have been driven by a desire to avoid returning to Iraq.

Andres Raya was scheduled to report back to Camp Pendleton, near San Diego, on Sunday after a weekend leave.

Instead, police said, he went out with a semiautomatic rifle and drew officers into an ambush outside a liquor store in Ceres, a town of about 35,000 next door to his hometown of Modesto.

Raya's mother told the Modesto Bee that her son "came back different" from his last assignment, which included service in western Iraq's insurgent hotbed of Falluja.

"In speaking with family, they conveyed to us that their son did not desire to return to Iraq," said Lt. Bill Heyne, a spokesman for the Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department.

The ambush was recorded by a security camera outside the liquor store. Raya was shot and killed after a three-hour search, investigators said.

Ceres police spokesman Jason Woodman said Raya had walked into the store and "was pacing around, acting strange."

He walked back outside, fired a shot with his rifle and went back inside, telling employees he had been shot and to call police.

"As he saw the officers, he immediately engaged in gunfire with them," Woodman said. He said Raya chased the officers as they pulled back, still firing his rifle.

"It's very evident that he was intent on engaging these officers in gunfire, and that he was not concerned with the bullets that were going to be flying in his direction," Woodman said.

Ceres police Sgt. Howard Stevenson was killed almost instantly when he arrived at the scene, said Art de Werk, the city's director of public safety.

Another officer, Sam Ryno, was in serious condition at a Modesto hospital Monday evening.

A statement from Camp Pendleton said Raya was on weekend liberty when he was killed. The Marine Corps is assisting police with the investigation, the statement said.

Raya was a driver in the 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment -- an element of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, much of which is serving in Iraq.

According to the Marines, he had been awarded the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and the Navy and Marine Corps Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.

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