Santa Rosa man shot, wounded in botched home invasion robbery

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Gunfire rang out in a Rincon Valley neighborhood early Thursday after a resident interrupted a home-invasion robbery by intruders looking for marijuana, Santa Rosa police said.

The 49-year-old resident was shot in the leg after chasing a man out of his home, Sgt. John Cregan said. At least two intruders and the driver of a dark-colored sedan were involved in the predawn encounter on Windsor Court, a quiet Rincon Valley cul-de-sac adjacent to the much busier crosstown thoroughfare, Montecito Boulevard.

The resident was fired upon during two separate rounds of gunfire outside in the neighborhood.

Officers found Amante Erwin Robinson, 19, of Santa Rosa hiding in thick brush in a wooded area north of Montecito Boulevard and arrested the teen on suspicion of attempted murder, burglary, being a felon in possession of a gun and removing the serial number from a firearm, Cregan said.

The resident was growing marijuana for medical purposes both indoors and outdoors at the single-story Windsor Court house and appeared to be in compliance with medical cannabis regulations, Cregan said. Neighbors said towering outdoor plants were easily seen over a fence.

The suspects already had chopped down about 60 plants inside the home and ransacked several rooms and possibly a car outside — removing jewelry, a computer and other valuables — when the resident was awakened by the noise, according to police.

The resident jumped out of bed and, unarmed and in his underclothes, he confronted the intruder, who police suspect was Robinson, in a room adjacent to the one where the resident’s teen daughter was sleeping.

The resident chased him outside. The intruder then pulled out a handgun in the street outside the man’s house and fired multiple shots, hitting the man in the leg and running away, Cregan said.

As the wounded man began walking back toward his house, a dark-colored sedan drove into the court but then quickly turned and sped away, he later told police.

The wounded resident then encountered a second suspected intruder who was hiding alongside the house and the resident chased him onto nearby Montecito Boulevard, Cregan said.

He lost sight of the second intruder but then was confronted by a man — likely Robinson again — who once again opened fire, Cregan said.

Police were called to the home just before 1:30 a.m.

Officers circled the area and launched an extensive search in the neighborhood and a nearby wooded area north of Montecito Boulevard, aided by the Sonoma County sheriff’s helicopter and a police dog team from Sebastopol. Within about an hour, officers found Robinson curled in a ball in thick brush with a gun tucked in a jacket pocket, Cregan said.

They continued searching for the second man seen running from the Windsor Court home. The Police Department warned residents to stay inside and lock their doors at about 3:15 a.m.

Investigators suspect Robinson and the other men were looking for marijuana.

Windsor Court is a small cul-de-sac consisting of five single-family homes.

Palm trees grace the front yard of the victim’s stucco one-story house, and a Porsche sat parked under a carport in the driveway. The front steps and walkway were spotted with red stains that appeared to be drying blood.

A young, blond woman who answered the door declined to comment about the shooting.

Neighbors said she was the victim’s daughter. All were either awakened or drawn to the sound of shots early Thursday. And everyone interviewed on the court said they were aware their neighbors were growing pot.

Patrick McGannon, who lives next door, said the victim’s name was Ike. He said his 14-foot plants could be seen jutting over the fence.

“It’s legal, so there’s nothing I can say about it,” said McGannon, 60. “But we didn’t like it. What could we do?”

Danny Moore, 32, who lives across the street in a big, two-story house with 10 roommates, said he and some of his roommates were awake when the shooting started about 1:30 a.m.

He said he looked out his front window in time to see his neighbor standing outside in boxer shorts and a man in a black leather jacket running away on Montecito Boulevard.

Then two more men pulled up in a car, yelled something out the window and screeched away, Moore said.

He heard more gunshots before police cars arrived about 10 minutes later. Soon after that, he said, a police helicopter hovered overhead.

“It was really unexpected in this neighborhood,” Moore said.

Another neighbor, Dan Kirichenko, said he two heard shots but looked out the wrong window of his house and didn’t see anything. He went back to bed.

He didn’t know what happened until the next morning when he turned on the TV and saw his street on a news channel.

“I saw the carport over that Porsche,” he said. “I said, ‘Hey, that’s Windsor Court.’ ”

Cregan noted that the incident involved two separate encounters during which gunshots were “wildly sprayed in the street.”

Officers found at least one bullet that struck the resident’s house.

“No matter what area of town, marijuana grows attract crime because there’s so much money involved,” Cregan said, noting that processed pot can be sold for as much as $2,000 or $3,000 per pound depending on the quality.

“Whether (marijuana gardens) are legal or not, it attracts this type of crime. It’s a danger not only to residents, but also neighbors,” he said.

Cregan said the man who was shot in the leg is expected to recover.

Emergency dispatchers said the wounded man declined to be taken to a hospital for treatment, despite the advice of paramedics who responded to the scene.

Anyone with information about the case can call the Police Department’s violent crimes team at 543-3590. The Sonoma County Alliance is offering up to $2,500 in reward funds for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the suspects still at large.

You can reach Staff Writer Julie Johnson at 521-5220 or julie.johnson@press democrat.com. On Twitter @jjpressdem.

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