A Clearlake man faces multiple life terms in prison when he’s sentenced next month in connection with a 2013 Lake County vehicle chase, during which he fired a gun at CHP officers and one of his passengers died after leaping from his SUV.
William Edward Steele, 41, was convicted Friday of 22 felony criminal counts, including four attempted murder charges and one of involuntary manslaughter, according to the Lake County District Attorney’s Office. He also was found guilty of multiple counts of assault with a deadly weapon, discharging a firearm from a vehicle, being a felon in possession of a firearm and unlawful imprisonment of the passengers in his vehicle.
Steele was driving a Chevrolet Tahoe on Highway 29 near Kelseyville when the CHP initiated a traffic stop because they suspected he was intoxicated.
Steele pulled over but then drove off, firing shots at the officers. During the ensuing chase, he again pulled over but then made a U-turn and fired once more at officers.
During the pursuit, Steele’s two passengers jumped from the vehicle. One, Jeremy John, hit his head on the road and died.
Steele was giving the passengers a ride back to the Hopland Rancheria, where he formerly lived, after they delivered a truck he had purchased, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
After his passengers leaped from his vehicle, Steele turned the SUV around to face the CHP officers and revved the engine, law officers said. He then backed into a trailer park, then out, then back in before deserting the vehicle and fleeing on foot.
Steele had prior convictions in Lake and Mendocino counties that included assault, according to the District Attorney’s Office. He is a member of the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians, from which he had received $480,000 in per-capita casino-related payments in 2013, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
You can reach Staff Writer Glenda Anderson at 462-6473 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @MendoReporter.