Deputies shoot, kill suspected kidnapper near Guerneville
Published: Friday, March 1, 2013 at 5:54 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, March 1, 2013 at 8:13 p.m.
A kidnapping suspect was shot and killed by a Sonoma County sheriff's deputy in Guerneville late Thursday night after he reportedly terrorized a woman confined in his car — apparently unaware she was texting to a friend who relayed her pleas for help to law enforcement, authorities said.
An ensuing pursuit by Sonoma County sheriff's deputies that began on Guerneville Road in Santa Rosa ended when the man, identified as Richard Shreckengaust, 37, lost control of the car on Odd Fellows Park Road in Guerneville, about a mile from Highway 116, authorities said.
The woman fled from the car after it crashed into an embankment. Shreckengaust was shot "two to three times" as he sat in the driver's seat of the car, according to a prepared statement issued Friday by Santa Rosa Police Capt. Craig Schwartz.
The sheriff's deputy who fired the fatal shots feared that Shreckengaust was reaching for a weapon, Schwartz wrote. None was found in the vehicle.
Schwartz said Shreckengaust resided in Marin County. Property records show a person matching that name and age in Greenbrae.
Schwartz did not identify the kidnapping victim or the deputy who fired the fatal shots.
The woman and Shreckengaust had known each other socially since January, but they were not dating or in a romantic relationship, Schwartz wrote.
Shreckengaust picked up the woman Thursday night and the pair smoked marijuana. Schwartz reported that the woman became frightened when Shreckengaust began acting bizarrely and made statements about having explosives in the car.
Shreckengaust refused the woman's request to be dropped off in Terra Linda and instead drove north on Highway 101 toward Sonoma County, saying he had to bring her to the Bohemian Grove.
At about 10:25 p.m., a friend of the woman contacted San Rafael police to report that she was sending text messages saying that she was being kidnapped, Schwartz wrote.
Sonoma County sheriff's deputies spotted the suspect's car on Guerneville Road in Santa Rosa and followed it until they tried to make a traffic stop on Guerneville Road near Highway 116.
The woman later reported that Shreckengaust had said, "It's on," and that he smoked from what she thought was a methamphetamine pipe during the ensuing pursuit.
Radio traffic indicated he was seen throwing something from his car, though it was not clear what that was.
Shreckengaust twice avoided spike strips that deputies placed in the road in an attempt to disable his car. The victim also made unsuccessful attempts to escape from the vehicle.
Shreckengaust turned onto Odd Fellows Park Road and smashed the car through a gate. He drove through a narrow gap between two buildings and then smashed through two more gates to avoid a roadblock, Schwartz reported.
Shreckengaust was unable to negotiate a corner as he drove back down Odd Fellows Park Road and went off the road and into the embankment.
Seven deputies were present when the pursuit ended, including two deputies with dogs. Shreckengaust initially complied with orders to put his hands outside the open driver's-side window, Schwartz wrote.
But then he put his hands back inside the car and rolled up the driver's-side window when one of the deputies approached the vehicle with a dog.
Deputies shattered the window to give the dog access inside. Shots then were fired, Schwartz said.
Schwartz reported that prior to the driver's-side window being shattered, deputies noticed Shreckengaust "lean and reach to his right."
Schwartz said the deputy fired because he feared Shreckengaust was reaching for a weapon.
Fire personnel at the scene said Shreckengaust was shot in the chest and in the back.
Deputies removed Shreckengaust from the car after he was shot. He was placed in handcuffs and provided first aid, including CPR, Schwartz wrote.
He was pronounced dead at the scene.
The woman was distraught but required no medical treatment, firefighters and emergency dispatchers said.
Santa Rosa police were brought in to investigate the shooting in accordance with a countywide Critical Incident Protocol designed to provide neutral review of officer-involved shootings.
The Sonoma County Sheriff's Office also is conducting an internal review, Sheriff Steve Freitas said.
The unidentified deputy involved in the shooting was placed on administrative leave, a routine practice, while the investigation is pending.
Santa Rosa police did not make themselves available for further comment Friday night.