Masked gunmen stormed two Santa Rosa-area homes early Thursday, killing one man and wounding another in a pair of related shootings that touched off a daylong scramble by law enforcement across two counties, leading to the arrest of three suspects in Vallejo after a vehicle pursuit and the arrest of a fourth man at a Santa Rosa motel Thursday evening.
A fifth suspect, a woman, was believed to be at-large in the Vallejo area after a tense, block-by-block search there following the vehicle chase.
The pair of Santa Rosa shootings, both before sunrise, and about two hours and 5 miles apart, involved a team of armed intruders, according to law enforcement and witnesses, who described seeing family members pistol-whipped and bound with tape amid repeated demands for cash.
“The suspects came into the homes demanding marijuana and money,” said Sgt. Spencer Crum, a Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office spokesman.
Crum said investigators knew of no connection Thursday between the two homes other than the early morning violence.
Deputies found evidence of pot cultivation and sales at one of the homes, down a dead-end lane off Todd Road, where a male resident was shot dead and guns were stolen from the house, according to Crum.
Authorities did not release the names of the three men arrested in Vallejo or the man arrested by sheriff’s investigators at the Motel 6 Santa Rosa on Cleveland Avenue. Crum did not say why the names were withheld.
In the first shooting, about 4:22 a.m. in a home on the 1900 block of Fulton Road, not far from the Northwest Prep Charter School on Piner Road, one man was shot in the arm, according to authorities and witnesses.
No evidence of drug operations or other illicit activity was found at the home, Crum said. It was unclear why the house was targeted, he said.
In the second incident, about 6:45 a.m. dispatchers took a 911 call reporting a man was shot multiple times after armed, masked men broke into the home. First responders performed CPR on the man but he died of his wounds inside his home, the Sheriff’s Office said. He was not identified Thursday.
Witnesses in the first shooting described a terrifying scene. Five masked intruders kicked in the front door, setting off an alarm system at the modest home and jolting awake the entire household — a married couple and their three children, ages 9, 14 and 18.
One of the masked suspects fired a gunshot into the ceiling and shoved the 18-year-old into a laundry room, tying her wrists together with duct tape. Then they started making demands.
“They were saying, ‘Where’s the money? I need the money!’” recalled her 14-year-old brother, who was then pistol-whipped in the head and his father shot in the arm. The intruders wore masks made with what looked like knit caps with holes cut out for the eyes, said a woman interviewed outside the home with her family Thursday afternoon. The masked intruders kept demanding cash, at one point shoving the 9-year-old daughter to the ground and hitting the 14-year-old boy twice in the head with a handgun, drawing blood, she said.
“He just said, ‘Get on the floor,’ and hit me, then hit me again,” the boy said.