Subscribe

Autopsy shows Napa vineyard murder victim shot five times

Vineyard investor Emad Tawfilis was shot four times as he ran for his life last week through a Napa Valley vineyard while vintner Robert Dahl chased him down and finally killed him with a final shot to the head, according to Napa County sheriff’s officials.

Napa Coroner’s Capt. Steve Blower said an autopsy revealed Tawfilis, 48, had five gunshot wounds, including two to the head and two to his upper chest.

Four of the shots weren’t life threatening, including a shot above his left ear, Blower said. The autopsy showed another shot to his head killed him.

Also Tuesday, 911 dispatch recordings released to The Press Democrat show police arrived at Dahl Vineyards shortly before noon - four minutes after the initial 911 call and moments before authorities say Dahl shot Tawfilis in the head at close range, killing the Los Gatos man.

On the recording, a police dispatcher tells officers that a man had been shot and wounded while an assailant chased him through a vineyard.

A recording of the 911 call by Tawfilis has not been released.

The March 16 shooting started inside the winery building at Dahl Vineyards, just south of Yountville. The two men were meeting in an attempt to negotiate settlement of a lawsuit stemming from a $1.2 million loan to Dahl by Tawfilis, according to their attorneys.

During the meeting, Dahl pulled out a .22-caliber handgun fitted with a silencer and shot Tawfilis, sheriff’s officials said.

Wounded, Tawfilis ran from the building and into a vineyard, apparently running parallel to a driveway leading to Highway 29.

Dahl, 47, got into his SUV and drove after the bleeding man, continuing to shoot at him, according to sheriff’s officials.

Tawfilis called 911 on his cellphone as he ran, saying Dahl was trying to kill him and that he’d been shot.

The sound of additional gunfire was captured on the 911 tape, officials said.

Tawfilis made it to the end of the vineyard but collapsed on Hoffman Lane, where he was shot once more while still on the phone with the dispatcher.

“The line was still open,” sheriff’s Capt. Doug Pike said Tuesday.

Deputies arrived to see Dahl standing over a man prone on the ground, pointing a gun down at him, officials said.

Dahl drove off, trying to escape deputies in pursuit. He drove about 10 miles, leaving the straightaway of Highway 29 for winding Oakville Grade.

Dahl eventually crashed into a gate on private property off Wall Road. Deputies found him dead in his SUV, with a gunshot wound to his head.

Dahl’s autopsy showed he died of the single gunshot wound to the head, Blower said.

The horrific nature of the crime, including the 911 plea from the fleeing victim, prompted sheriff’s officials to hold a stress debriefing session for those involved in the case.

A professional counselor led Tuesday morning’s session, which included deputies, other first responders and dispatchers. Pike said the latter group were in a room that went quiet during the 911 call as the shooting occurred over the phone.

“This was just tragic,” he said.

You can reach Staff Writer Randi Rossmann at 521-5412 or randi.rossmann@pressdemocrat.com or on Twitter ?@rossmannreport.

UPDATED: Please read and follow our commenting policy:

  • This is a family newspaper, please use a kind and respectful tone.
  • No profanity, hate speech or personal attacks. No off-topic remarks.
  • No disinformation about current events.
  • We will remove any comments — or commenters — that do not follow this commenting policy.
Send a letter to the editor

Our Network

The Press Democrat
Sonoma Index-Tribune
Petaluma Argus Courier
North Bay Business Journal
Sonoma Magazine
Bite Club Eats
La Prensa Sonoma
Sonoma County Gazette