A former assistant San Francisco police chief who has been residing in the Sonoma Valley died of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound on Wednesday night, authorities said.

Sonoma County sheriff's officials say Morris Tabak, 59, was found dead in his car in the parking lot of the Sonoma Valley sheriff's substation on Highway 12 after leaving home in what family members said was a state of despondency.

Deputies were notified around 7:45 p.m. that Tabak, who retired in 2010, was potentially suicidal, sheriff's Lt. Bret Sackett said.

Deputies were looking for his green Dodge Durango when a deputy coming on shift spotted it outside the substation around 8:30 p.m., Sackett said.

Tabak formerly lived in San Mateo County, according to a 2010 Bay Citizen article carried by The New York Times.

He was promoted from deputy chief to assistant police chief under then-Chief George Gasc? in 2009, according to the SFPD. He reportedly spent more than three decades with the department, having started with the San Francisco International Police Department before law enforcement at the busy airport came under the jurisdiction of city police.

Tabak appeared to have died of a single gunshot wound, Sonoma County authorities said.

An autopsy was scheduled for Thursday afternoon, the Sonoma County Coroner's Office said.

It was unclear how long Tabak lived in Sonoma County.