Sonoma County deputies shot and killed a shoeless 36-year-old man who led officers on a wild chase through rural wine country before threatening them with a claw hammer, tiller and rocks, authorities said in a statement released late Monday.
The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office identified the man who died in the Friday morning encounter as David Pelaez Chavez of Lower Lake.
In the statement, they said Chavez was chased off two properties by armed homeowners, stole and crashed a truck and utility vehicle after driving them through vineyard gates and property fences, and finally fled on bare feet through heavy brush and up steep hillsides.
The two deputies caught up with him at a creek bed, where he held a claw hammer and tiller in one hand and a large river rock in the other, according to the statement. They ordered him to drop the items but he “continued to yell nonsensical statements” and threatened to throw the rock.
He dropped the rock, but quickly leaned down to pick up another large river rock, “and made a movement that indicated he was threatening to hurl the rock at the deputy,” the statement said. That’s when one of the two deputies fired three rounds, killing Chavez.
He did not throw a rock at the deputies in the moments before they shot him, said Santa Rosa Sgt. Christopher Mahurin.
Mahurin said they are trying to find out why he drove from his home in Lower Lake and parked in Geyserville around 5:30 a.m. Friday. Chavez did not appear to have any work or personal ties to the area, he said.
The sheriff’s office said Chavez told one of the homeowners to shoot him, according to the statement.
The Santa Rosa Police Department and the Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office will investigate the shooting. Both deputies are on paid leave.