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Sonoma County sheriff’s deputy shot through own windshield at suspect

A Sonoma County sheriff’s deputy had just driven the front of his patrol car into the driver’s side door of 47-year-old Shawn Hart’s GMC truck when Hart appeared to reach for something in the cab, according to the account of an Oct. 31 shooting released Friday by the Sheriff’s Office.

Fearing for his life, the deputy shot three rounds from his handgun, blasting through the front windshield of his patrol car, officials said. Meanwhile another deputy, thinking Hart had discharged a weapon, fired a single round through the rear window of Hart’s truck.

The suspect was struck twice in the left arm and a bullet grazed his nose, officials said.

“The concern at that moment was that he felt his life was in danger,” Misti Harris, a sheriff’s spokewoman, said of the deputy in the vehicle. His name and that of the other deputy were both withheld by the Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff’s officials said Shawn had already backed his truck into a patrol car at least twice trying to elude capture.

The incident began shortly after 10:30 p.m. Halloween night when sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to the 300 block of Bailhache Avenue in Healdsburg in response to a report of an assault with a truck.

Officials said the victim of the assault, an unidentified 48-year-old Guerneville man, had been called to the location by the property owner, also unnamed, who reported Hart was causing trouble and refusing to leave. The victim described Hart as homeless and staying in the truck in or around the property, officials said.

The victim attempted to intervene, but Hart drove his truck at the victim and hit him with the truck’s front bumper, authorities reported. The victim then alerted the Sheriff’s Office.

The GMC truck had been reported stolen by its owner, Hart’s mother, on Oct. 13. She reported that there was a .38-caliber revolver in the truck, officials said.

In the account released Friday, sheriff’s officials said deputies responding to the incident were given key information about Hart and his prior criminal history. He had a prior arrest for being a felon in possession of a gun and Hart had recently “vowed never to be taken alive,” the sheriff’s statement said.

He also had a $50,000 warrant for violating a restraining order, authorities said.

Deputies found Hart driving in the vicinity of the Vineyard Creek apartment complex near Airport Boulevard. Hart refused to stop when deputies signaled him to do so with their emergency lights. Hart then drove into Whispering Creek Drive and into the Stonegate Mobile Home Park. He was stopped by a pile of debris in a vacant field, backed up and drove in reverse into a patrol car, authorities said.

The deputy of that patrol car then drove his car into the driver’s side of the truck and the shooting ensued. Harris, the sheriff’s spokeswoman, said Hart’s movements were clearly visible since the scene was illuminated by headlights from several patrol cars and emergency lights. After Hart was hit during the gunfire, he was ordered to put his hands up. He eventually complied, officials said.

He was treated and taken to an unidentified local hospital. Harris said he is still at the hospital and will be transferred to Sonoma County Jail after he is discharged.

Deputies found two large kitchen knives and a folding-lock tactical knife in the cab of the truck. Officials said the gun Hart’s mother said was in the truck has not been located.

Hart is set to be arrested on suspicion of two felony counts of assault with a deadly weapon, possession of a stolen vehicle and the arrest warrant.

You can reach Staff Writer Martin Espinoza at 707-521-5213 or martin.espinoza@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @renofish.

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