Rohnert Park police are investigating a pair of recent crimes near Copeland Creek trail — late-night gunshots fired at a group of teens in the Rancho Cotate High School parking lot and a stabbing.
At the high school, a group of teens hanging out late at night were shot at five times by a figure standing across the lot. No one was hit, but one bullet struck their car, police said.
Officers found one bullet in the car, another by the snack bar and another hit a sign by the school stadium. Five, .45-caliber shell casings were found in the parking lot, said Rohnert Park Sgt. Jeff Nicks.
That occurred at about 11 p.m. on April 17. The school stadium and parking lot are near the Copeland Creek trail, which stretches from about Commerce Boulevard to Sonoma State University.
The stabbing happened Saturday night on the trail after dark.
Rohnert Park police released no information about either the shots fired at the teens or the stabbing until Tuesday evening when they issued a public alert.
Sgt. Jeff Justice said a news release was issued Tuesday after his investigation unit learned about the stabbing along the same trail as the shooting. Weekend officers did not notify the investigations team immediately, he said.
"We wanted to put out the information so people could be aware," he said.
Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District Superintendent Robert Haley said the school's principal was notified by Rohnert Park police the week after the incident, which he said happened on a Thursday night before a Friday when the school was closed.
"Of course we're concerned," he said. "But we're concerned this happened in our community. This had nothing to do with the school."
Police identified the five people in the parking lot as Rancho Cotate students but Haley disputed that.
"Our understanding is that some of the teenagers were not our students," he said.
The five teenagers told officers they'd been hanging out in the football field parking lot, out of their car, listening to music, Nicks said. A male appeared across the lot, near some trees close to Snyder Lane. One of the teens thought it could be a friend and began to move toward the person.
"All of a sudden the guy fires five rounds. They see the muzzle flash and take cover behind the car. Luckily, no one was hit," Nicks said.
The shooter left on foot, possibly with a few other people.
Neighbors called to report the sound of gunfire, bringing officers to the school.
Nicks said the teens hadn't been causing any problems and the shooting appeared to be a frightening, random act.
There were no obvious gang connections to the incident, he said.
Whether the incidents were connected wasn't known.
Police said officers will spend more time patrolling the trail, and they asked for the public's help in solving the crimes.
"We want the public to be aware, but we don't want people to be scared. Be vigilant," Nicks said Wednesday.
Police said the stabbing victim was walking the trail between Commerce Boulevard and Seed Farm Drive when he was attacked.
The victim, a 20-year-old Rohnert Park man, told police he was walking the trail waiting for his laundry to be finished when a man in dark clothing ran up, stabbed him in the stomach with an unknown object and fled. He told police he didn't know who the man was or why he attacked him.
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