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Santa Rosa shooting victim upgraded to fair condition; suspect at-large

Santa Rosa police officers search the area around Coddingtown Apartments after a shooting was reported, in Santa Rosa, California, on Wednesday, March 7, 2018. (Alvin Jornada / The Press Democrat)

MARY CALLAHAN,

Dawn McGill was too frightened Wednesday night to open the patio door of her ground-floor apartment, despite the repeated ringing of the doorbell and pounding on the locked screen door.

McGill, who lives at the Coddingtown Mall Apartments to the south of the northwest Santa Rosa shopping center, peeked through the peephole. She saw a man trying to open the locked screen door. It was about 9:15 p.m.

She asked who he was.

“He just kept saying, ‘Me,’” McGill said Thursday. When she suggested through the door the man was at the wrong address, “he started saying, ‘I’ve been shot! I’ve been shot.’”

Thursday, Santa Rosa police continued their investigation into the shooting near Coddingtown Mall that left a 31-year-old Cotati man hospitalized with multiple gunshot wounds.

Authorities said the victim’s injuries did not appear to be life-threatening, and his condition was upgraded Thursday from critical to fair. His name is not being released because of the ongoing investigation, police said.

Investigators believe the victim was specifically targeted, but the motive remains unclear, police Sgt. Tommy Isachsen said. While the shooter remains at large, police do not feel he or she represents a threat to the general public.

Isachsen said Thursday detectives were pursuing several leads but had not detained anyone.

Two police officers happened to be at the apartment complex on unrelated business when they heard multiple gunshots, police said.

They ran toward the sound and found the victim outside McGill’s apartment in the shelter of a second-floor balcony at one of several four-unit two-story apartment buildings, Isachsen said. It remained unknown Thursday exactly where the shooting occurred, he said.

McGill recalled Thursday how she and her mother had been watching TV in their apartment on Range Avenue when the drama began.

“He was just desperate for someone to help him, I guess,” she said.

But she was too afraid to open the door, especially after seeing something shiny through the peephole, even though it may have been just a liquor bottle. She and her mother dropped to the floor, and she told the man she would call 911. He responded, “Good.”

McGill hid under a recliner while she called 911 and stayed on the phone while awaiting help. Her mother ran into a bedroom to make sure they were both away from a window they feared the man might jump through.

“It was really scary,” McGill said. “I couldn’t believe he came to our house, of all places.”

Authorities arrived quickly, and she could hear them shouting orders. She saw about eight officers outside, some with rifles drawn. It took several requests before the victim raised his hands and gave his name, she said.

At least one officer kept asking the victim who shot him and told him not to protect whoever it was. “You could be dying,” she heard an officer say.

She could see the man had blood on one hand and arm, and heard him calling out in apparent anguish when paramedics were evaluating him. He also lost a significant amount of blood that firefighters later cleaned up from their patio, McGill said.

There was a report Wednesday night of at least one witness who reported seeing a gunman in a black hooded sweatshirt with white writing on the back, black pants and a black baseball cap who fled the area. Isachsen said he could not confirm any such person was involved in the crime.

A $2,500 reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the case by the Sonoma County Alliance “Take Back Our Community Program.” Anyone who might know anything about the case is asked to call investigators at 707-543-3670.

You can reach Staff Writer Mary Callahan at 707-521-5249 or mary.callahan@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @MaryCallahanB.