Authorities identify man fatally shot by Sonoma County sheriff’s deputy

The man who was fatally shot Friday by a Sonoma County sheriff’s deputy was a 36-year-old Lake County resident. Investigators are trying to determine why he was in the area. Authorities also released the names of the two deputies involved in the incident.|

A 36-year-old Lake County man was holding a hammer, a rock and a garden tool similar to a pickaxe when a Sonoma County sheriff's deputy fatally shot him on Friday, Santa Rosa police said on Monday.

The man, identified as David Pelaez-Chavez of Lower Lake, was standing 10 to 15 feet away from two sheriff’s deputies when one of them fired three shots, according to Sgt. Chris Mahurin, a Santa Rosa Police Department spokesman.

Authorities released the names of the deputies Monday night, but they did not specify which of them shot Pelaez-Chavez.

The deputies are Michael Dietrick, who has nearly nine years of law enforcement experience, including five years with the Sheriff’s Office; and Anthony Powers, who has three years and nine months of experience including five months with the Sheriff’s Office.

Dietrick previously worked for the Clearlake Police Department, while Powers previously worked for the San Francisco Police Department.

Both are on paid administrative leave.

The shooting happened shortly after 10 a.m. in a rural area east of Healdsburg, according to authorities.

The rock Pelaez-Chavez held was about the size of a cantaloupe, Mahurin said. The hammer and garden tool were in his other hand.

It was unclear how many bullets hit Pelaez-Chavez, according to Mahurin. He said that detail would become clear after an autopsy by the Marin County coroner, which is scheduled for Tuesday.

Pelaez-Chavez was pronounced dead at 10:29 a.m. by a paramedic who was airlifted to the site of the shooting, a forested area in the Franz Creek bed, on private property about a mile from a home in the 5600 block of Thomas Road.

The two deputies had tracked Pelaez-Chavez there during a search that lasted more than an hour.

Sheriff’s Office officials declined to answer questions Monday about the shooting or the events that preceded it.

Misti Wood, a spokesperson for the agency, said any inquiries should be referred to Santa Rosa police, who have been tasked with investigating the incident.

County protocol requires in-custody deaths be investigated by an outside agency.

The search began after a homeowner in the 5200 block of Tre Monte Lane called authorities at 8:20 a.m. to report an attempted break-in, according to Mahurin.

Nobody at the home, which is on a vineyard property, knew the man trying to get in, Mahurin said.

Investigators believe Pelaez-Chavez used a rock to smash a pane of glass on a door leading to the home’s master bedroom.

The homeowner then confronted Pelaez-Chavez with a handgun and told him to leave, Mahurin said.

Pelaez-Chavez “slowly was starting to leave the property but not going quickly,” Mahurin said. “The homeowner shot two warning shots near (Pelaez-Chavez) but was not trying to hit him.”

Pelaez-Chavez then went behind the home and stole a pickup truck that belonged to a worker who was on the property, according to Mahurin.

The worker tried to stop Pelaez-Chavez from getting away by holding onto the truck, but Pelaez-Chavez drove off, dragging the worker on the ground for about 20 feet, according to Mahurin. He said the worker was not injured.

Pelaez-Chavez drove the pickup through several vineyard gates, both on the property where he had stolen the truck and on neighboring parcels, before he crashed into a ditch in the 5600 block of Tre Monte Lane, according to Mahurin.

He then approached a nearby home and somebody inside saw him go near the back door carrying large rocks, Mahurin said.

He said the person inside confronted Pelaez-Chavez with a gun, telling him to leave the property, and Pelaez-Chavez told that person to shoot him.

Pelaez-Chavez then walked to a ranch storage building in the 5600 block of Thomas Road and stole what police described as a Gator-style utility vehicle, which he drove along several dirt roads in the neighborhood before he crashed and continued on foot, according to Mahurin.

Deputies followed his movements and, after he crashed the utility vehicle, they tracked him “through thick, dense, rolling, steep hillsides and through creeks” for about 45 minutes before the shooting happened, Mahurin said.

“They could hear him screaming and yelling, rambling words and phrases, and they were trying to communicate with him to drop his weapons,” he added.

Pelaez-Chavez tried to throw a rock at one of the deputies, Mahurin said.

One of the deputies deployed a stun gun, but was not successful in stopping Pelaez-Chavez, according to Mahurin. He said it was unclear whether the stun gun darts hit Pelaez-Chavez.

Investigators have not determined why Pelaez-Chavez was in the area, a rural neighborhood dotted with ranches and wineries. None of the residents who authorities interviewed said they knew him, according to Mahurin. He said investigators are looking into the possibility that he may have been hired to work at one of the properties in the area.

One neighbor called authorities at about 7:30 a.m., before the search began, to report an unoccupied silver Nissan sedan had been parked near his home for about two hours. Authorities determined the car was registered to Pelaez-Chavez.

You can reach Staff Writer Matt Pera at On Twitter @Matt__Pera.

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