SANTA ROSA, ROHNERT PARK, SONOMA COUNTY SHOOTINGS DATA DUMP!

 

 

 

CLICK. RECENT SONOMA COUNTY POLICE SHOOTINGS FROM 1996 TO THE PRESENT. 

Click. D. LOWELL JENSEN REVERSED BY 9TH CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS IN THE TERESA MACIAS MURDER CASE, 7/00.

Click. May 29, 2000 San Francisco Examiner Article re: Civil Rights Commission Report. 

CLICK. Santa Rosa chief defends shooting 5/6/00 [Eugene Dieterle shot to death on 5/4/00 - a "suicide by cop" case?]

Click. SOME RESIDENTS SUPPORT POLICE. OTHERS ARE WARY.

Click. 911 Transcript re: Dieterle case.

Click. Santa Rosa shooting first use of deadly force by Santa Rosa Junior College Police.

Click. Roberry Suspect in Santa Rosa dies.

CLICK. Rohnert Park Police shoot  Robert Francisco Camacho, alleged drug dealer on 5/5/00, who ran amok at mobile home park.

Click.  Gunman in Rohnert Park serious hurt by Rohnert Park police who shoot.

Click.  Neighbors surprised by man's rampage.

 U.S. COMMISSION ON CIVIL RIGHTS REPORT RELEASED!  IT TANKS THE SANTA ROSA AND ROHNERT PARK POLICE. [But the unpublished appendices tell the real stories.] Click to read report. 

Today:

ROHNERT PARK AND SANTA ROSA POLICE ENGAGE IN MORE SHOOT 'EM UPS!  

Robbery suspect in SR dies; gunman in RP seriously hurt 
May. 5, 2000 By LORI CARTER and MICHAEL COIT © 2000
Santa Rosa Press Democrat Staff Writers

Police in Santa Rosa shot and killed a robbery suspect Thursday evening, 18 hours after Rohnert Park officers seriously wounded a gunman at a Rohnert Park mobile home park.

In the Santa Rosa incident, police said two Santa Rosa officers and a Santa Rosa Junior College officer confronted and shot the suspect at about 6:20 p.m. on Carr Avenue near Humboldt Street after a report of a robbery at Bill's Friendly Market, a block south at McConnell Avenue. The suspect had fled the store on foot.

Santa Rosa Police Chief Michael Dunbaugh said the suspect pointed what turned out to be a replica of a gun or a toy gun painted black at the officers before they fired.

The suspect, whom police did not identify, was pronounced dead at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital. The names of the officers were not released.

In Rohnert Park, two officers at about 1 a.m. Thursday shot the gunman wearing military-style body armor after he ran through the Rancho Verde Mobile Home Park, firing wildly at cars, buildings and a neighbor, authorities said.

Robert Francisco Camacho, 35, walked out of his residence at the mobile home park at about 12:50 a.m. after arguing with his wife, Sonoma County Sheriff's Lt. Bruce Rochester said.

Armed with a semi-automatic 9mm pistol with a 20-round clip, a .41-caliber Magnum revolver and extra ammunition, Camacho walked down Corte Rayado and began firing, police said. At least 14 rounds struck a car parked on one side of the street, the tailgate of a truck nearby and a car four doors down.

Terrified neighbors called police to report the gunfire and told of a man with a goatee running, possibly chasing another man.

In all, three dispatchers answered 21 separate 911 calls from park residents, reporting gunfire, some pleading for police to hurry because they feared for their lives, Rohnert Park police Lt. Dave Frazer said.

Robert Quayle, who lives along the route Camacho apparently took, said he heard the first shots and shined a spotlight toward the gunman.

"He was running down the alley with a gun and shot right at me," said Quayle, who was not wounded. "I glanced at him and there was a flash from the gun and he was gone."

Witnesses said the man then ran between two mobile homes, through a grassy open area and toward the park entrance. Other neighbors heard the commotion as it progressed through the 300-space family park and as police arrived at the entrance.

"I was in bed and I heard six shots first," said Linda Woodcock, who lives near the front of the complex with her husband, Tom. "Then about five seconds later I heard four more."

Moments later, they said, they heard footsteps rush past their patio and a confrontation with officers.

As Officer Dan Marquez pulled up, Rochester said, he spotted two men, one matching witnesses' descriptions of the shooter, walking toward the entrance, the only driveway in and out of the park.

He ordered both men to the ground, but Camacho began walking toward Marquez with a gun pointed at him, Rochester said. Marquez sought cover behind his patrol car and continued yelling at the other man to stay on the ground.

"He said 'Get down,'" Linda Woodcock said, "and the guy said 'Don't shoot me, I own a restaurant.'"

"I heard the cop yell 'Let me see your hands. Let me see your hands,'" Tom Woodcock said.

Camacho -- carrying a gun in each hand, Rochester said -- continued walking into a field across Rohnert Park Expressway and refused to obey an order by Sgt. Donald Wagner to get on the ground.

Rochester said that when Camacho pointed both guns at Wagner, both Wagner and Marquez opened fire. Wagner fired four times and Marquez once, Rochester said.

Camacho was struck once in the head. He was taken to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital in critical condition and was in intensive care late Thursday night.

The officers were not wounded. Rochester said it was unclear whether Camacho fired his guns during the confrontation with police.

Camacho's 20-round clip was full and three rounds had been fired from the .41 Magnum, Rochester said. Because of the number of shots already fired, detectives believe Camacho at some point stopped to reload.

Detectives determined the other man seen walking near Camacho was not involved.

As is standard in officer-involved shootings, a team of detectives from other Sonoma County police agencies and the District Attorney's Office is investigating the incident. The Sonoma County Sheriff's Department is leading the investigation.

The Sheriff's Department also was leading the investigation into the Santa Rosa shooting, aided by Petaluma police, and was on the scene late Thursday gathering information.

Santa Rosa police said the incident began with a report of an armed robbery at 6:14 p.m. at Bill's Friendly Market, 1500 Humboldt Ave. Dunbaugh said the suspect wore a stocking mask and displayed the fake gun during the holdup.

Witnesses said they saw a suspect run quickly from the store, followed by a man, apparently a store clerk, who carried a cell phone in his hand.

A police statement issued late Thursday night said, "As officers were responding to the scene, the dispatcher heard the caller say he thought the gun might be a toy gun. He also described the man as having what looked like black tar on his hands."

Investigators were unavailable to say whether that information was relayed to the officers.

Witnesses said that immediately after the robbery, a Santa Rosa officer patrolling only a block away responded, turned on his car's emergency lights and took off after the suspect fleeing first down Humboldt Street and then onto Carr Avenue.

"I heard them yelling at the guy, 'Get rid of your gun.' They've got their guns drawn on the guy," said Michael Rawley, who said he watched the confrontation from his vehicle.

Police said the Santa Rosa officer was joined by a second Santa Rosa officer and the SRJC officer. The three officers confronted the suspect and witnesses "ignored repeated orders to comply with officers' directions and instead suddenly pointed what appeared to be a black semi-automatic handgun at the officers," prompting the officers to fire, police said in the statement.

The SRJC officer has 16 months experience on the force, one Santa Rosa officer has five years experience and the other three years.

The SRJC police is an independent, fully accredited law enforcement organization that serves more than 30,000 students, faculty and staff throughout Sonoma County. Police said it is not unusual for officers to patrol within a mile of the campus.

Calls to the SRJC police for comment were referred to the Santa Rosa police.

The two shootings brought to three the number of officer-involved shootings within a month in Sonoma County, each involving a different law enforcement agency and decidedly different circumstances.

Santa Rosa police are still investigating an April 10 incident in which two Windsor police officers fatally shot Erin McDonald, 31, who authorities believe may have set up her suicide by falsely reporting an armed woman was holding another woman hostage. When officers entered the house, they were confronted by McDonald holding what appeared to be a gun. It turned out to be a fake, painted to look like a real weapon.

"It's unfortunate but I have a suspicion that the (fake) weapon involved in the Windsor incident may have been duplicated here," Dunbaugh said.

He would not comment on whether officers handled Thursday's incident correctly.

"We have a lot of questions and we won't have more answers until we know more. This is right at the preliminary stages, figuring out what happened," he said.

The recent shootings are the first in Sonoma County since one in July 1998, which was the last of seven police shootings over more than two years, each of which was ruled justified by investigating agencies.

Those shootings sparked concern in the community and led to a hearing on police-community relations before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. More than two years after the hearing, the commission's report last month recommended formal civilian oversight of police actions, a suggestion local law enforcement agencies dismissed as unnecessary.

Thursday's Rohnert Park incident is the first officer-involved shooting there since April 29, 1997, when Kuan Kao, rapidly twirling a 6-foot wooden stick, was fatally shot by Officer Jack Shields.

The shooting became a symbol for outspoken law enforcement critics who said local police were trigger-happy. Shields was cleared of wrongdoing, but a $50 million federal wrongful death lawsuit filed by Kao's family is pending.

Rohnert Park Lt. Frazer said the details in Thursday's shooting are different than in the Kao incident.

"We regret that this happened. The officers knew they were getting into a very dangerous situation because of the 21 911 calls," Frazer said. "They knew this was the real deal," he said.

"We had people with bullets whizzing by their heads, people saying, 'I'm in fear for my life.'

"You don't have time for less-than-lethal force at that point. You don't have time to go to the trunk of the car for the beanbag shotgun."

Wagner, 41, is a 16-year veteran of police work, including six years with Rohnert Park and 10 years with the Pierce County (Wash.) Sheriff's Office.

Marquez, 42, has 18 years of law enforcement experience. He has been with Rohnert Park since 1989 after serving as an officer at Sonoma State University and elsewhere.

Camacho's wife told detectives her husband was not violent, and his criminal record showed only minor drug possession charges, Frazer said, giving investigators no clear motive for his behavior.

"We don't know why. Sometimes you just can't figure it out," he said. "Sometimes there is no logical explanation."

U.S. COMMISSION ON CIVIL RIGHTS REPORT RELEASED!  IT TANKS THE SANTA ROSA AND ROHNERT PARK POLICE. [But the unpublished appendices tell the real stories.] Click to read report. 

   

SR Chief Defends Shooting

Toy gun report, 'suicide by cop' issue aired. May. 6, 2000. By LORI A. CARTER © 2000 Santa Rosa Press Democrat Staff Writer

Press Democrat Staff Writer Chris Smith contributed to this report.

Santa Rosa's police chief said Friday the officers who fatally shot a suspected armed robber Thursday were told on the way to the scene that the gun he carried might be a toy but they legitimately feared for their safety.

Chief Mike Dunbaugh, noting the suspect had recently displayed classic behavior of "suicide by cop," said the officers responded to the life-threatening situation and ordered Todd Eugene Dieterle, 37, of Santa Rosa to lay face down.

But Dunbaugh said Dieterle's next action proved decisive: "His left hand came around and he aimed the gun at the officers."

Witnesses confirmed police accounts that Dieterle was shot when he pointed what appeared to be a black handgun at officers. The gun turned out to be a plastic toy painted black, police said.

Dieterle died at about 9 p.m. Thursday, three hours after the two Santa Rosa police officers and a Santa Rosa Junior College officer opened fire, hitting him several times in the torso.

Dieterle was suspected of robbing Bill's Friendly Market, at Humboldt Street and McConnell Avenue near SRJC, at 6:14 p.m.

At a news conference Friday, police played an audio tape of the 911 call that reveals a dispatcher relayed information to responding officers that the gun used in a robbery may have been a toy.

Seconds after the robber left the store, market owner Bill Nijjar grabbed his cordless phone, called 911 and walked outside to watch the robber walk away.

While giving the suspect's description, Nijjar told the dispatcher, "I think it's a toy gun. He doesn't have a real gun. It's a toy gun."

Moments later, the dispatcher relayed the information to officers arriving at the scene but noted it was "not confirmed."

Dunbaugh said that even with that information the officers legitimately feared for their safety and the lives of passers-by.

"They were able to consider that in the split second they had, but the officers made a choice that their lives were at risk," he said.

Dunbaugh said Dieterle's recent actions included classic behavior of someone attempting "suicide by cop."

Within the past week, Dieterle was convicted of spousal abuse, sought treatment for a substance abuse problem and made statements about having a terminal disease, Dunbaugh said.

According to court records, Dieterle was released Wednesday from the Sonoma County Jail after pleading guilty to one count of misdemeanor spousal abuse and agreeing to appear in court in June for a sentencing hearing related to a probation violation.

Dunbaugh said there are several common traits among people who purposely risk their lives in confrontations with police: substance abuse problems, a history of domestic violence and a perceived life-threatening situation.

"We've already confirmed all those situations exist in this case," he said. "You can draw your own conclusions on that."

Dunbaugh compared the use of a plastic toy gun painted black to look dangerously similar to a real gun to the fatal officer-involved shooting in Windsor on April 10.

There, police believe a woman called 911 reporting one woman holding another hostage. When police arrived, they said, Erin McDonald pointed what turned out to be a toy gun at them. Officers fired, killing her.

"We certainly have a similarity of toy guns pointed at police officers," Dunbaugh said. "I do have questions about copycat crimes and why someone may have wanted to take their own life."

Police and witnesses agreed Friday that Dieterle acted strangely during and after the robbery.

Nijjar said Dieterle entered the store, turned toward him and pulled on a nylon stocking mask.

Nijjar said he thought the gun in the robber's waistband might be fake, but he handed the money over anyway.

"It looked like plastic, but I wasn't going to find out," he said. "I almost asked him, but I didn't want him to get mad. I wanted to get it done."

Nijjar watched Dieterle walk and then slowly jog away from his store after making off with a couple of hundred dollars in small bills. A nearby neighbor saw the robber leave the store and pull off the mask, gun still in hand. The witness, who asked not to be identified, jumped in his truck with a friend and followed the suspect walking down the street.

"He was like a zombie," he said. "The way he walked, the way he moved, the way he looked at us, it was weird. It's like he wasn't there but he was there."

The gunman continuously pointed the gun at the witnesses' truck, forcing them to duck down, the witness said.

He trailed the man north on Humboldt Street and east on Carr Avenue, where he saw a woman walking on the sidewalk toward the gunman.

"I thought, 'My God, she's going to walk in the path of him. We gotta get her out of here,'" he said.

The sight of the man with the gun convinced the woman to jump into the truck with two total strangers.

That's when police arrived and the officers ordered the gunman down, the witness said. Dieterle complied initially, police and witnesses said.

"They said, 'Drop your gun, drop your gun,' but instead he pointed at the middle of all of them," the witness said.

Three of four officers present opened fire, shooting at least nine times, Dunbaugh said. An autopsy scheduled today will determine how many times Dieterle was hit.

It has not been determined which officer fired first.

The three officers who fired were Robert Rider, 32, a five-year veteran of the Santa Rosa department; Jesse Hanshew, 26, a three-year Santa Rosa veteran; and SRJC Officer Michael Nielsen, 27, on the campus department for 16 months.

None of the officers have been involved in a shooting before.

Dieterle's record includes misdemeanor convictions for driving under the influence of alcohol and spousal abuse, court records show.

He was a fugitive on the charges until April 25, when he surrendered himself to Sonoma County authorities.

He was jailed until Wednesday, when he was released on his own recognizance after changing his plea to guilty in the spousal abuse case.

Dieterle's common-law wife, with whom he has a child, sought a temporary restraining order against him, police said.

Two longtime police critics attended Friday's news conference and challenged Dunbaugh on the appropriateness of the Sheriff's Department investigating the Police Department in the Dieterle shooting while the Police Department investigates the Sheriff's Department in the Windsor shooting.

County law enforcement protocol in officer-involved shootings calls for a separate agency to investigate the incident and forward a report to the District Attorney's Office for review.

Dunbaugh noted Santa Rosa's investigation into the Windsor case has been forwarded to the District Attorney's Office. The district attorney has yet to make a finding.

Dunbaugh also reiterated his stand that an independent civilian review board into police actions is unnecessary.

Santa Rosa Police Cmdr. Scott Swanson said any citizen concerned about this shooting or any other police issue is welcome to attend meetings of the city's Citizens Advisory Board, which serves at the chief's discretion.

That newly formed board is advisory only.


Man shot by Rohnert Park police dies

May. 6, 2000, By TIM POLK © 2000 Santa Press Democrat Staff Writer

Press Democrat Staff Writer Lori A. Carter contributed to this story.

The Rohnert Park man suspected of firing shots in a mobile home park early Thursday morning before being shot by police died Friday after his life support was disconnected, police said.

Sonoma County Sheriff's Lt. Bruce Rochester said Robert Francisco Camacho, 35, was pronounced dead at 11:45 a.m. at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital.

The request to remove him from life support came from his family, Rochester said.

According to police, at about 12:50 a.m. Thursday Camacho had an argument with his wife at their residence at 67 Verde Circle in the Rancho Verde Mobile Home Park. Armed with a semi-automatic 9mm pistol and a .41-caliber magnum revolver and wearing body armor, Camacho walked through the mobile home park firing randomly at cars, police said.

One resident who heard the gunshots and shined a spotlight at Camacho also was fired at, police said. Frantic residents placed 21 911 calls to police.

Camacho was later confronted by two Rohnert Park police officers as he crossed Rohnert Park Expressway and entered a field. When he refused the officers' order to put down his weapons and instead pointed both guns at police, the officers fired. Camacho was struck in the head.

An investigation of the incident is under way by the Sonoma County Sheriff's Department.

Authorities have interviewed each of the 300 park residents and have tried to retrieve all of the estimated 14 bullets fired by Camacho, Rochester said.

An autopsy will be performed by the county Coroner's Office today. Toxicology results to determine if Camacho was under the influence or alcohol or drugs normally take about two weeks.

Rochester said police are baffled as to what triggered Camacho's shooting spree or why he refused to obey the officers. His only previous brushes with police were several drug arrests.

"There's no indication why he went from minor drug possession to more," Rochester said.

The Sheriff's Department report will be turned over to the District Attorney's Office, Rochester said. The office reviews all officer-involved shootings.


911 Transcript
May. 6, 2000, Santa Rosa Press Democrat News Services

The following is the 911 call recorded by Santa Rosa police dispatchers, from Bill Nijjar, owner of Bill's Friendly Market, at 6:14 p.m. Thursday, which led to a fatal confrontation with a robbery suspect. The call last 2 minutes, 25 seconds.

Dispatch: Santa Rosa 911. Hello.

Caller: Hello, I've got a holdup at Bill's Friendly Market.

Dispatch: OK. What do you mean by a holdup? What happened?

Caller: With a gun.

Dispatch: Is he there now?

Caller: Yeah.

Dispatch: Somebody's there with a gun right now?

Caller: He's in my parking lot.

Dispatch: Did he take money from you?

Caller: Yes.

Dispatch: What does he look like? White, black, Hispanic?

Caller: White man.

Dispatch: What kind of gun was it?

Caller: Black gun.

Dispatch: Was it a big gun?

Caller: No, it was a black gun.

Dispatch: Was it like a smaller gun?

Caller: (Distracted.) That's the one ...

Dispatch: Sir, you need to give me information, please.

Caller. He's going to north.

Dispatch: What kind of vehicle?

Caller: He's running on foot. (pause) He's got red and white stripes.

Dispatch: What color shirt?

Caller: Red and white stripes.

Dispatch: What else can you tell me?

Caller: He's wearing white pants.

Dispatch: White pants?

Caller: Has a jacket with a lot of grease on his hands.

Dispatch: He's got a jacket or what ...

Caller: I think it's a toy gun. He doesn't have a real gun. It's a toy gun.

Dispatch: Which way did he go?

Caller: Gun looked like a toy gun.

Dispatch: Which way did he go?

Caller: He's going on Humboldt Street.

Dispatch: Which way on Humboldt?

Caller: Humboldt toward the Circle K. (Pause.) He's turning left, he's turning left on Carr.

Dispatch: So he's westbound Carr now from Humboldt?

Caller: Yes. Yes. So ...

Dispatch: How old do you think he was?

Caller: Oh he's um mid- to 30. Probably late 20s. Very tough guy, on foot.

Dispatch: What color hair?

Caller: Shiny hair.

Dispatch: Brown hair then?

Caller: Yes.

Dispatch: And, uh, but what kind of build then, thin, heavy?

Caller: Heavy. He got lot of tar on his hand. And he pulled, what you call it, a nylon right in front of e on his face.

Dispatch: He had a nylon stocking on his face?

Caller: Yes. He just pulled it right in front of me.

Dispatch: OK and how much money did he get, do you know?

Caller: Um, he got singles and, I don't know.

Dispatch: Did you put the money in a bag?

Caller: No, just handed it to him.

Dispatch: OK. (Pause.) What's your name please sir?

Caller: Bill.

Dispatch: OK. Bill we're on our way out there, OK?

Caller: Yeah, I see a cop car.

Dispatch: OK, bye bye.

Caller: Bye bye.

While the store owner was reporting the robbery, another dispatcher sent officers to Bill's Friendly Market and relayed the description of the suspect, noting a partial language barrier between dispatch and the caller. The dispatcher also told officers the black gun may "have been a toy gun, but not confirmed."

In a tape released by police, the officers report arriving at the scene, spotting the suspect on Carr Avenue and noting that he had a gun.

Shortly thereafter, an officer reports "shots fired." Seconds later, a more frantic call from an officer says "shots fired, shots fired" and tells dispatchers to send an ambulance to the scene.


Some residents support police; others are wary

May. 6, 2000. By MARIA BROSNAN LIEBEL  © 2000,  Santa Rosa Press Democrat Staff Writer

Residents of neighborhoods in Santa Rosa and Rohnert Park where suspects were shot Thursday said police did the right thing when they used deadly force to stop the suspects.

But others, who have been critical of police, said the shootings again point to the need for civilian review of police actions.

"I'm nonviolent, but I understand their job is a dangerous one and that's what they're trained to do," said Karen Ratzlaff, who lives about a block away from Carr Avenue, where 37-year-old Todd Eugene Dieterle was fatally shot Thursday evening by two Santa Rosa police officers and a Santa Rosa Junior College officer.

Margo Davis, who lives between Bill's Friendly Market and the spot where Dieterle was shot, was watching four children when the violence erupted. She heard the gunshots and smelled the smoke of the gunfire.

She said the officers did the right thing because they did not know the suspect's weapon was a toy gun.

Davis' son-in-law, Peter Leveque, said, "If somebody is walking down the street with a gun and police say put it down, you deserve to be shot."

Residents of Rancho Verde Mobile Home Park in Rohnert Park, who were terrorized by a gunman firing into cars and at people early Thursday morning, agreed.

Katrina Quayle, whose husband was shot at by Robert Francisco Camacho, said police had no choice but to open fire on him because they didn't know why he was shooting.

"There just seemed to be no rhyme or reason for what he was doing," she said.

Another Rancho Verde resident, who wanted to be identified only as Pat, agreed police did the right thing. "I'm sure they did if he (Camacho) had two guns and an armored vest."

However, Desiree Poindexter, who lives about a block away from the Santa Rosa shooting area but did not witness the incident, wondered if police could have used less-than-lethal means to subdue Dieterle.

"I think they definitely didn't need to shoot him nine-plus times," as police reported, Poindexter said. She said neighbors told her the gunfire sounded like firecrackers.

"At that point, you're not trying to get them to drop their gun," she said.

Her boyfriend, Ben Saari, who has been an advocate for a civilian police review board, said police should use deadly force only "after a bullet has come at them."

He and Tanya Brannan of the Purple Berets said they are mostly concerned about the fact that the Santa Rosa Police Department is investigating the Sonoma County Sheriff's Department in the April 10 Windsor shooting of a woman, while the Sheriff's Department investigates Santa Rosa police for Thursday's shooting.

"I just wonder how many deaths is too many deaths for the community. At what point does the community say this has got to stop?" Brannan said.

She said the police agencies' investigating each other appears "rife with conflict," and she won't be surprised if officers are exonerated in all the investigations. A civilian review board would provide hope that unbiased people would investigate and tell the truth, she said.

"I'm not saying they were unjustified shootings," she said of all three recent incidents. "I'm just saying we'll never know."


SR shooting first use of deadly force by SRJC police
Officer had same training as city law enforcement, says chief
May. 6, 2000 By TIM POLK  © 2000 Press Democrat Staff Writer

The Santa Rosa Junior College District police officer involved in the Thursday shooting of robbery suspect Todd Eugene Dieterle is the first campus police officer to use deadly force in the department's 23-year history.

Campus Officer Michael Nielsen, 27, joined three Santa Rosa police officers on the scene and was one of three who fired at Dieterle, according to police officials.

Nielsen, by policy, has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the results of the investigation being led by the Sonoma County Sheriff's Department.

Campus Police Chief Terry Stewart said his officers have full peace officer status and have undergone the same extensive police training, including graduating from the police academy, as members of other law enforcement agencies.

"We meet the same training standards and have the same responsibilities as the other police departments," Stewart said.

Nielsen has been a campus police officer for 16 months, Stewart said. Previously, he served as a campus community services officer for three years.

Nielsen graduated from the police academy, Stewart said, and went through four months of field training provided by SRJC police.

Campus police frequently patrol the area east of Mendocino Avenue near where the shooting occurred because many students attending night classes park away from the college. Evening classes begin at 7 p.m.; the robbery and subsequent shooting took place at about 6:15 p.m.

"You had a very serious crime in progress," Stewart said. "Being two blocks away, our officers would hear that call and respond."

A second SRJC police officer also responded, he said.

SRJC police are responsible for safeguarding more than 30,000 students, faculty and staff at several locations throughout Sonoma County. Those include a downtown Santa Rosa warehouse and more than 5,000 students and administrators at the Petaluma campus.

In addition to Stewart, who was hired in 1976 and created the police department in 1977, there are a lieutenant, 10 sworn police officers and 12 nonsworn community services officers.

The department also has about 15 to 30 cadets at any given time as part of SRJC's Criminal Justice Training Program.

Stewart said campus police are involved in investigating or preventing almost every type of crime. The campus' central location -- with the Sonoma County Jail and a homeless shelter nearby -- generate frequent problems caused by nonstudents, he said.

"We have every kind of crime that other cities have," Stewart said.

Officials with both Santa Rosa police and the SRJC police say the two departments frequently provide backup or otherwise support each other. Santa Rosa Police Sgt. Brian Davis said that while the two forces do not train together, beat officers with both departments are in frequent contact.

"Their jurisdiction certainly extends beyond geographical lines," Davis said.

On Friday, the mood at the campus police office was somber, Stewart said.

"We're a small group, and very close," he said. "There's concern for all of the officers involved."


Neighbors surprised by man's rampage

May. 5, 2000 , By TIM POLK © 2000, Santa Rosa Press Democrat Staff Writer

ROHNERT PARK -- Residents of Rancho Verde Mobile Home Park were surprised to learn Thursday that the suspect in the early morning shooting spree was a neighbor, 35-year-old Robert Camacho.

"He's the nicest guy," said resident Pam Phillips, who lives a few homes from Camacho. "He played with our kids all the time."

Phillips and other neighbors said Camacho, who lives with his wife and two children at the park, moved to the mobile home park west of downtown Rohnert Park about 18 months ago. He had told neighbors he had lived previously in the San Diego area.

Jeremy Johnson was lying on his couch when he heard gunfire erupt outside his home a half-block from the Camacho residence.

"I had bullets whizzing by my head," Johnson said as he and other neighbors rushed outside to see what was happening.

Johnson's 1999 Honda had a bullet hole through the left rear window, one of the random shots fired by Camacho, police say.

Johnson said Camacho had an old truck, which the two talked about several times.

"He always waved when we drove by," Johnson said.

A spokeswoman at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital said late Thursday that Camacho was listed in critical condition. He had a bullet wound to the head, police said.


Recent police shootings

May. 5, 2000 Santa Rosa Press Democrat News Services © 2000

1996-1997: Sonoma County police officers shoot and kill seven people in various incidents over a two-year period. Each is ruled justified.

After series of deadly shootings by police, rights panel suggests civilian oversight

"Appalled" by the frequency of deadly police shootings in Sonoma County, the California Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights is recommending better training and more restraint by law enforcement officers and the creation of at least three civilian review boards.

The report comes more than two years after the committee met in Santa Rosa at a forum to air complaints about seven deaths of crime suspects at the hands of police between 1995 and 1998.

It arrives at an incongruous time: Three Sonoma County residents have been shot and killed by law enforcement officers in the past seven weeks.

The triggering event for the February 1998 forum was the death of Kuanchung Kao, a 33-year-old Rohnert Park engineer, who police said allegedly threatened an officer with a broomstick in a martial arts fashion.

Both the Sonoma County district attorney's office and the U.S. attorney's office for Northern California cleared Officer Jack Shields of criminal responsibility in the case. Kao's family has filed a civil complaint for damages but the case has yet to come to trial.

The advisory committee noted that "lack of gender and language diversity among the law enforcement entities" may have contributed to what it found to be a widespread distrust of them in the county.

And it found "a community that did not trust law enforcement investigations of use of force incidents and whose perception was that district attorney investigations were not independent."

Further, "the number of police shootings indicates that the policies on use of force should be revisited to incorporate mediation techniques and less violent methods of resolving a critical incident." It recommended more training for law enforcement officers on those techniques.

The committee also recommended that the district attorney's office deal at arm's length with the police on officer-involved shootings and "publicize that it will also receive complaints" against officers.

Civilian review boards should be considered by all county jurisdictions, the committee said. And Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa and the Sonoma County Sheriff's Department "require the immediate creation of civilian review boards," it said.

The committee's findings are advisory only, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights spokesman Tom Pilla said.

Santa Rosa Police Chief Michael Dunbaugh established a city police advisory committee, whose members were chosen by him and the City Council in 1997. The Sonoma County Law Enforcement Chiefs Association organized a countywide panel to review police policies this year, but it does not review officer-involved shootings.

Sonoma County activist Mary Moore of Occidental said the committee's report validated many of the complaints made against law enforcement, but "the problem is that they have just circled their wagons . . . They investigate each other, and they're adamantly opposed to civilian review boards."

Law enforcement "has done some very superficial things - Chief Dunbaugh's handpicked advisory panel. That's the level of what's been done," said activist Karen Saari of Bodega Bay. "The level of violence hasn't gone down."

In a written presentation to the Santa Rosa City Council, Dunbaugh said his department has acted on and completed nearly all of the 25 recommendations made by the committee. He criticized the media for focusing on the creation of a civilian review board.

He said the review panel now in place will work better for Santa Rosa than the "narrowly focused single entity approach" recommended by the committee.

"In the long run, we are creating a much healthier systematic approach to reviewing law enforcement services than has been recommended in the report," he said.