FAIR OAKS - A young woman is dead after leading police on a high speed chase through Citrus Heights.
Officers opened fire when the driver rammed her vehicle into a Citrus Heights Police Department car. The Sacramento County Coroner identified the woman as 22-year-old Gabriella Nevarez, referred to by her friends and family members as Gaby.
Those who knew Nevarez embraced one another near the crash site as word quickly spread that the 22-year-old was shot and killed during a police pursuit.
Citrus Heights police said Nevarez led officers on the high speed chase after they received reports that the car she was driving had been stolen. Officers tried to pull her over but were unsuccessful.
"The female became uncooperative, combative and tried to flee the scene. She did this by ramming a patrol vehicle with an officer inside," said Brian Fritch with the Citrus Heights Police Department.
Police chased after Nevarez as she reached speeds of up to 70 miles an hour on Madison Avenue.
One of her friends was on the phone with her as the pursuit played out. "She said, 'cops are behind me' and then hung up. I texted her about 20 minutes after that and I said, 'are you okay?' And I didn't get no text back," said Whitney Palma.
The pursuit ended at an apartment complex on the 7500 block of Sunset Avenue when Nevarez tried ramming another police vehicle. Officers opened fire saying they feared for their lives.
But Nevarez' friends said the shooting was not justified.
"She tried to backup, but they thought she was trying to get a gun or something and they start shooting at her," Palma said.
Family members said Nevarez took the car from her grandmother who she had just gotten in an argument with.
Nevarez leaves behind a 3-year-old son.
"One day, we will have to pull him aside and let him know what happened and the story about his mom. But from here on we just have to keep pushing our lives," said cousin Louie Esquivel.
Friends plan to hold a candlelight vigil on Monday at 8 p.m. where Nevarez died.
In the meantime, as is routine with cases like this, the officers involved in the shooting have been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.