The shooting death of a 21-year-old Marin County man at a Santa Rosa hotel was apparently a drug deal that turned violent, detectives said Monday.
It was Santa Rosa’s first homicide of the year, the second in Sonoma County since Friday.
The Santa Rosa victim, whose name wasn’t released pending notification of family, was shot at least twice, Sgt. Dave Linscomb said, and died at the scene, the Vagabond Inn on Cleveland Avenue north of Coddingtown Mall.
The incident involved a drug deal, Linscomb said, although he wasn’t sure whether the victim was selling or buying.
“At this point, we believe it was as probably drug-related, a dope-ripoff type of thing over marijuana,” Linscomb said.
Someone from the hotel called police after shots rang out about 7:40 p.m. Sunday, he said. Witnesses reported hearing multiple shots.
Santa Rosa police, firefighters and paramedics arrived to find the man in one of the first-floor rooms. Attempts to revive him were unsuccessful.
Two potential suspects were seen quickly leaving the scene in a red car, Linscomb said.
Police publicly released only vague descriptions of the men, but shortly thereafter, Sonoma County sheriff’s deputies spotted a similar vehicle speeding south on Highway 101 near Petaluma. They weren’t able to stop it, Linscomb said.
Raj Sharma, the hotel manager, said his staff rented a room to the guest and followed all the appropriate procedures.
“We have regular procedures we follow when we check someone in,” he said. “We check for the guest ID and credit card number.”
He said they provided police with the guest information and are cooperating with the investigation.
“We feel really terrible, but in this situation we have taken all the security procedures,” he said. “Sometimes we don’t know when people have ulterior motives. In my 30-year career, it’s the first time I have experienced anything like it.”
He added that the Vagabond has security cameras inside the hotel and employs security guards to patrol outside to guard against thefts from vehicles.
Protection Services of California provides armed security guards for the hotel at night, said company owner David Letasi, but he referred further questions to the police. His company is based out of the Coddingtown center.
Linscomb said the Vagabond isn’t a particularly troublesome hotel, but he said it is unusual that armed security guards patrol its premises.
“This hotel, just like any hotel, has its problems,” he said, “but this is not typical. I wouldn’t say it was one of the more problematic hotels.”
Last year, there were three homicides in Santa Rosa, including one on Christmas Eve and another on New Year’s Eve.
In Agua Caliente, Joshua Javier Gonzalez, 19, was arrested Friday on suspicion of involuntary manslaughter in the death of Mario Zamudio Perez, 25. Perez of Sonoma Valley got into a fight with Gonzalez at about 5:30 p.m. outside the Valley of the Moon Teen Center.
He died a short time later at Sonoma Valley Hospital. Witnesses described a brief fistfight between the men.
Santa Rosa Police are asking anyone with information about the Sunday shooting or the suspects to contact the Violent Crimes Investigation team at 543-3590.
You can reach Lori A. Carter at 762-7297 or firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter @loriacarter, or Elizabeth M. Cosin at 521-5276 or email@example.com Press Democrat photographer Beth Schlanker contributed to this story.