A 61-year-old man is accused of killing two people and wounding three others, including a California Highway Patrol officer, in a series of shootings spread over at least seven crime scenes in Lake County, authorities say.
Alan Ashmore, of Clearlake Oaks, was taken into custody Monday afternoon about 12:15 p.m. after the shootings, which were carried out with multiple firearms, including handguns and a shotgun, the Lake County News reports.
The wounded officer and other two surviving victims suffered non-life-threatening injuries, police said. The names of the victims, including the two who were killed, have not been released.
Police have not released a motive for the Northern California shootings and many details about what happened remain unclear.
“I think he was almost targeting everybody. Everybody he had a grudge with and also random citizens,” Lake County District Attorney Don Anderson told KPIX-TV.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Ashmore Went on a Spree That Included Shootings Near Homes, a Winery, Gas Stations & a Post Office, Police Say
Alan Ashmore is accused of going on a wild crime spree that led to at least seven crime scenes, with shots fired near homes, a gas station, a post office and a winery, authorities said. The first shooting was reported at 11:23 a.m. Monday, the Lake County Sheriff’s Department said in a press release.
“The preliminary investigation showed that Ashmore shot into several residences in the 13000 block of Anchor Village in Clearlake Oaks. The two homicide victims were located at different location in the same block,” the sheriff’s department said. According to KRON-TV, the two homicide victims are male.
“Ashmore shot a female resident on the same street,” the sheriff’s department said. Another man suffered a non-life-threatening gunshot wound in the same area. The man and woman who survived were being treated at a local hospital, police said.
A woman who lives in Anchor Village wrote on Facebook about what she saw. She said a man pulled up, went into her neighbor’s backyard and fired off shots before getting in his vehicle, drive down the street and shoot someone else. She said Ashmore then came back up the street and pulled into a driveway as a California Highway Patrol officer responded.
“The guy then pulled out of the driveway got to the corner (Keys & Anchor Village), opened (his) window (and) I saw the sawed off shotgun come out of the window (and) he shot at the (officer) & took off,” the woman wrote.
The California Highway Patrol officer suffered a non-life-threatening gunshot wound, the sheriff’s department said. According to KRON-TV, the officer was in pursuit of Ashmore when he was shot in the leg. The officer was struck in his body armor with a bullet fired by Ashmore, authorities said.
Ashmore “went to a local gas station where he shot at a civilian who happened to be a licensed CCW holder. This person returned fire, striking Ashmore’s vehicle,” the sheriff’s department said.
According to the Lake County Record-Bee, that shooting occurred at a Chevron station. The station’s manager, Amanda Chew, told the newspaper that the suspect came into station’s convenience store and shot at a vendor, breaking a window. The vendor took out a shotgun and fired at the suspect’s moving vehicle as he drove away, according to Chew. No one was injured.
“When the gentleman (Ashmore) came in, I called 911 immediately and gave them a description. We were very lucky,” Chew told the newspaper.
“Ashmore then went to another gas station where he shot at other people. As of this press release, there are no known injuries from this incident,” the sheriff’s department said.
At one of the gas stations, Ashmore walked inside, carrying a gun, and took a soda from a refrigerator before walking back out, surveillance video shows:
The sheriff’s department added, “Witnesses provided a description of the vehicle Ashmore was driving, as well as a direction of travel on High Valley Road.”
“As deputies were searching for Ashmore, a local winery reported that Ashmore had shot at employees there,” according to the sheriff’s department. There were no injuries reported at Brassfield Estate Winery, where a family with four children were inside the tasting room area at the time the shots were fired, according to the Record-Bee.
“All I did was get word and immediately go into lockdown,” Brassfield’s Christine Sanders, who was behind the counter, told the Record-Bee. “We sat in the tasting room until given the OK.”
2. He Surrendered to Police After a 4-Mile Pursuit That Ended When He Hit a Roadblock
After police spotted Ashmore’s vehicle near the winery, he led officers on a four-mile pursuit, the Lake County News reports. The chase ended when he ran into a roadblock on High Valley Road, which police set up in a way that there was only one way in and out, the newspaper reports.
“Responding deputies were able to locate Ashmore’s vehicle, and pursued him for several miles,” the sheriff’s department said in a press release. “Other responding deputies and officers from Lakeport Police Department and CHP set up a road block. When Ashmore encountered the roadblock, he surrendered without incident.”
Sheriff Brian Martin told the Lake County News that Ashmore “gave up easily.”
The sheriff’s department said Ashmore was found with several firearms, including handguns and a shotgun, KCRA-TV reports.
“Several firearms were recovered from his vehicle and they are believed to be the weapons used in the murders,” the sheriff’s department said.
Ashmore was not injured.
3. Ashmore, an Army Veteran ‘Known’ to Police, Has a Record That Includes Domestic Violence & DUI Convictions
Alan Ashmore is someone who is “known in the area,” sheriff’s department officials told KCRA-TV.
Ashmore was convicted of domestic violence in 1994, according to court records. Details of that case, including the sentence he received, were not available Monday. He was charged with inflicting injury to a spouse or cohabitant. The case occurred in Fresno County, with charges filed May 4, 1994. Court records in Fresno County show that Ashmore was divorced in 1994 and had minor children at the time.
His record also includes convictions for driving under the influence and driving with a suspended license. He was charged with DUI in October 2004 and convicted in June 2005. Further details about the case and conviction were also not available online. That case happened in Lake County. In 2000, Ashmore was arrested in Oregon and convicted of driving with a suspended license.
Ashmore is an Army veteran, according to his Facebook profile. According to a photo posted, he served in the 7th Infantry Division. Further details about his military service were not immediately available. In addition to Clearlake Oaks, where he currently lives, Ashmore has lived in Lemoore, Hanford and Laton, California, and Creswell and Oakridge, Oregon, according to public records.
4. The Shootings Led to Shelter in Place Orders & Forced Firefighters to Stop Battling a Wildfire
Police asked residents in multiple areas to shelter-in-place while they searched for the shooter. A message was sent to residents at 11:52 a.m.
“Everyone near the Clearlake Oaks Post Office should shelter in place. There has been a shooting in the area.
The Lake County Sheriff’s Office is alerting residents to a dangerous situation. A shooting has occurred in the vicintity of the Clearlake Oaks Post Office. Stay indoors and out of sight until further notice,” the alert said.
The shelter-in-place warning was lifted about 1:30 p.m.
The shootings also forced firefighters to stop battling two wildfires located in the area near where Ashmore was captured, according to the Redheaded Blackbelt. Police are investigating whether the fires were set by Ashmore.
“A report of a fire that had just started on High Valley Road came in to LCSO Dispatch, and that fire is being investigated as Arson. The investigation will also focus on determining whether or not Ashmore started that fire,” the sheriff’s department said.
5. Ashmore Was Charged With 2 Counts of Homicide, Along With Several Counts of Assault With a Firearm
Alan Ashmore was taken into custody Monday afternoon and charged with two counts of homicide and multiple other counts of assault with a firearm, the Lake County Sheriff’s Department said in a press release.
“Lake County Sheriff’s detectives, with assistance from the CHP, Clearlake Police Department, Lakeport Police Department, and the Lake County District Attorney’s Office are processing multiple crime scenes,” the press release said. “Ashmore is expected to be booked into the Lake County Jail on multiple charges. The public is being asked for any information they may have concerning this investigation. If you have information, please contact Detective Sergeant John Gregore at 707-262-4238.”
It is not clear if Ashmore has an attorney. It is also not known when he is scheduled to appear in court.
Martin told the Lake County News that there were “many” witnesses to the shootings and they are being interviewed by police.