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‘Peace Officer of the Year’ slain in gunbattle

May 23, 1997

OROVILLE, Calif. (AP) _ A deputy sheriff honored last year as ``Peace Officer of the Year″ was shot to death in a gunbattle with a man suspected of beating his wife. The suspect was also killed.

Randal Jennings, 38, was shot twice in the neck and once in the wrist from 15 feet away. His bulletproof vest blocked two other shots.

Jennings had responded late Wednesday to a 911 call that Poa Xiong, 34, had been beating his wife in the couple’s home about 60 miles north of Sacramento.

Xiong fled the house, and Jennings trailed him to a field about two blocks away when the shooting started.

``We don’t know who shot first. But in my experience, when an officer is hit five times and a suspect once, the suspect probably shot first,″ Butte County Sheriff Mick Grey said Thursday.

At least 15 shots were fired, he said.

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