A man sought in the shooting death of a Santa Rosa massage therapist committed suicide Monday morning in Stockton when he stepped into highway traffic as police were attempting to arrest him.
Santa Rosa detectives believe the man, John Quincy Ellis, 46, shot Carole Marie Brooks, 61, Sunday afternoon, possibly during an attempted robbery.
Brooks died later Sunday at a local hospital.
Detectives tracked Ellis to Stockton during the night after tracing the rental car seen leaving the shooting scene on Clark Street near downtown Santa Rosa.
At about 8:20 a.m. Monday, Stockton and Santa Rosa officers pulled Ellis over as he drove the rental car.
Ellis stopped along a northbound onramp of Interstate 5 and got out, facing several officers who were pointing their weapons at him and yelling for him to drop to the ground, said Santa Rosa Police Lt. Steve Bair.
"He's yelling at the police to shoot him. He's making motions into his waistband as if he has a gun," said Bair.
When the officers didn't fire, Ellis ran across the onramp and then walked out onto the highway.
"A small car avoided him. But he stood in front of an oncoming big rig and kind of squatted down, facing it," said Bair.
The truck driver locked up his brakes but couldn't stop in time. CHP officers were investigating the fatal collision as a suicide, said Bair.
Santa Rosa detectives in Stockton Monday afternoon were searching the Ellis' home and car.
What prompted the shooting remained unclear.
"We're still trying to figure it out," said Bair. "We believe probably it was robbery or attempted robbery."
Initially it appeared that Ellis drove to Santa Rosa Sunday and was with Brooks at her massage office in a residential neighborhood.
At about 1:45 p.m. neighbors called 911 to report hearing yelling from the small building, followed by sounds of a woman screaming and then, a gunshot.
Witnesses reported seeing a man run down the driveway, get into a Nissan Versa and speed away. They found Brooks stepping outside, bleeding heavily from a stomach wound.
The beige rental unit with a red door became the center of a flurry of police activity.
Brooks, who was heard repeatedly expressing shock at having been shot, was treated by paramedics and taken to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital. Witnessed were interviewed and crime scene technicians gathered evidence. Yellow police tape blocked off the driveway.
On Monday the older, residential neighborhood southeast of downtown had returned to its typically quiet state.
Michael Harmon, who lives in one of multiple rental units on the property, said he hadn't known Brooks other than to say hello occasionally.
She'd introduced herself as "Tanya," and told him she didn't live in the small granny unit but rented it for her massage therapy business, he said.
"I'd see her a couple times a week," he said. "She was a very nice woman, considerate like neighbors are supposed to be."
Brooks' landlord, Helga Poulsen, said Brooks had rented the property for about three years.
"Oh my god. She was a lovely lady, very nice, very sweet," said Poulsen of Santa Rosa.
She believed Brooks was the mother of a daughter in college.