Police shoot, wound armed man at Petaluma apartment complex

Petaluma police shot a distraught man in the parking lot of a local apartment complex Tuesday afternoon after he pointed a gun at officers who had been trying to get him to surrender, police said.

The incident started as a domestic dispute at a large apartment complex called The Vineyard, just south of Casa Grande High School, but quickly turned into an armed standoff between officers and a man who appeared to be intoxicated and was making suicidal statements.

The incident led officials to issue a “shelter in place” order at 12:30 p.m., which prevented people from returning to or leaving their apartments or residences during the standoff and for hours afterward.

Armed officers engaged in a back-and-forth with the man for more than an hour. At one point the man produced a gun and attempted to shoot himself in the head, Petaluma Police Lt. Tim Lyons said.

Witnesses said he also asked for water and a phone to call his mother. At approximately ?1:51 p.m. the man appeared to reload the gun and made a movement that caused the assembled officers to open fire.

“He produced a firearm and made some suicidal threats,” Petaluma Police Lt. Tim Lyons said. “He pointed his weapon at the officers in a threatening manner.”

Lyons did not immediately know the type of gun the suspect brandished. He said multiple officers discharged their weapons, injuring the suspect. He said the suspect was transported to a local hospital with nonlethal wounds.

There was no immediate word about the identity of the wounded man, but residents said he appeared to be in his 20s.

The shooting is being investigated by the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office as is standard for officer-involved shootings.

Resident Sharon Rider said she was watching the shooting drama at the YouTube headquarters in San Bruno unfold on TV when she realized she had one going on right in front of her unit.

The man was upset and said that he wanted to injure himself, she recalled.

“He kept saying ‘I’m not trying to hurt anyone. Just me,’?” Rider said.

At one point, the man was sitting on the ground near her unit with what looked like a handgun in between his legs, she said.

“It looked like a toy gun to me,” she said.

Officers “tried to talk him out of it,” engaging in conversation with him, getting him a water and urging him not to touch the gun, she said.

“He kept saying ‘Give me a phone. I want to call my mom,’?” Rider said.

She saw the man light a cigarette, and then she went to another room and moments later heard gunshots, she said.

Rider said her white Toyota 4Runner was shot four times during the incident. The vehicle did appear to have several bullet holes in its windshield.

The car immediately next to hers was driven by the man who was shot, whom she had never seen before. The blue Toyota sedan remained with its driver’s side door open for hours Tuesday afternoon.

Police from both Rohnert Park and Petaluma initially cordoned off a large area with yellow crime scene tape, but as the afternoon wore on they allowed some residents back into their apartments.

Behind the police tape, the door to unit 132 was ajar most of the afternoon and into the early evening. A pile of clothes in front of the unit marked where the man was shot, residents said.

One resident in the complex of two-story apartments said he saw police remove “an assault-style type” of weapon from a unit.

Another resident, Dennis Allen, a retired psychologist, said he noticed people gathered outside his unit Tuesday afternoon.

When he went outside to ask them what was happening, they told him a man in a red shirt had a gun. He returned to his second-story unit, went out on the balcony and saw the man near a white truck talking to someone he assumed was a police officer.

At the time, a large number of police officers and residents were blocked from going into an area of the complex comprising perhaps 60 units, he said.

About half an hour later, Allen said he heard what he described as “a volley of at least seven shots.”

“It was amazing how loud the gunshots were and how compressed they were,” Allen said.

Alison Geoffrey, 31, rushed home from her job as a lab technician when she heard about the incident unfolding. She was worried about her father and her dog, who share her apartment. Rumors were swirling that the man had a hostage.

She said her father could hear what sounded like SWAT officers yelling and then gunfire.

“He said it sounded like an assault rifle,” Geoffrey said.

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