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Around 2:00 am on Tuesday, December 6th, a deputy was dispatched to a call of shots fired in the area of Belmont and N. Wintergreen Avenues in Fresno.

Around 2:00 am on Tuesday, December 6th, a deputy was dispatched to a call of shots fired in the area of Belmont and N. Wintergreen Avenues in Fresno. The deputy saw a man, later identified as 32 year old Dennis Happawana, walking on the roadway and shined a light on him. The man shined a light back toward the deputy. While seated in his patrol car, the deputy heard what appeared to be a gunshot and noticed smoke emitting from his engine compartment. It had been struck by a bullet, thus disabling the vehicle. The deputy got out of his vehicle and gave commands to the suspect to surrender. However, he refused and walked away into his family’s home on Wintergreen Ave.

Additional deputies responded to the area and surrounded the home. At 3:15 am, they heard a grinding noise, followed by a loud explosion and yelling. The smell of natural gas / propane filled the air and deputies could hear what appeared to be a pressurized gas leak. As a safety precaution, deputies gave orders to homeowners on the street to evacuate. Dispatchers informed deputies that there were other people inside the suspect’s house. Due to the serious nature of this incident, deputies with our Air Support Unit, SWAT Team and Crisis Negotiation Team (CNT) responded.

Deputies flew drones over the home in search of the suspect. Once he was located outside the house, some SWAT members entered the house in search of people in danger. Once inside, deputies could smell a strong odor of gas, which was determined to come from stove burners that were left on. Deputies found two adults, who were relatives of the suspect, barricaded in a room. Deputies rescued the people and got them out of the house to a safe location.
Drone operators continued to monitor the suspect’s movements. Around 5:15 am, he eventually made his way toward the back of the house where he was confronted by SWAT members, they fired their guns, striking the suspect. Deputies immediately gave the man medical aid, along with EMS members who were on standby with an ambulance. However, Happawana did not survive his injuries.

Detectives with the homicide unit, investigators with the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office and members of our Crime Scene Unit responded to the scene to conduct an investigation. Several people in the area were contacted for interviews and evidence was collected. This included multiple firearms and ammunition belonging to the suspect.
Meanwhile, firefighters and members of Fresno County Environmental Health responded to address the hazmat situation caused by the leaking propane. It was determined the suspect caused a five gallon propane tank to explode and also used a tool to puncture a 500 gallon propane tank stored on the property. Due to other chemicals stored at the property, the Sheriff’s Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) team also responded to investigate.  The materials were later determined to be non-hazardous.

This is an ongoing investigation. It marks the fourth deputy involved shooting of 2022.

Anyone with additional information that may help this investigation is asked to please contact the Detective Frank Perez at (559) 600-8207 or Crime Stoppers at (559) 498-7867, www.valleycrimestoppers.org  You will remain anonymous and may be eligible for a cash reward.


Dennis Happawana (Photo from 2016 robbery arrest)

Contact Information

Tony Botti
Public Information Officer
(559) 600-8137
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