Watch CBS News

Domestic violence suspect in standoff with police in Petaluma motel room died of self-inflicted gunshot wound

PIX Now - Morning Edition 3/20/24
PIX Now - Morning Edition 3/20/24 11:04

A man who held police in a standoff in Petaluma last week died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office, which is investigating the event as a critical incident.

The case arose from a March 9 call regarding domestic violence at a residence in the 2700 block of Harvest Lane in Santa Rosa. Police learned John Rector, 55, allegedly assaulted his significant other.

Police were unable to arrest Rector that night, so they issued a "be on the lookout" alert to all Sonoma County law enforcement agencies.

On March 11, officers saw the suspect driving a blue Ford F-250 in Santa Rosa. When officers attempted to pull him over, the Rector allegedly sped away and a vehicle pursuit ensued. Officers had to terminate the chase due to the danger it posed, police said.

Shortly after the chase ended, police learned a fire occurred at Rector's residence at Harvest Lane. The blaze was quickly extinguished and detectives were able to execute a search warrant. They allegedly found over a dozen firearms, including privately made rifles, assault rifles, shotguns and a handgun.

On Tuesday March 12, authorities spotted Rector's vehicle at a motel parking lot in the 200 block of South McDowell Boulevard in Petaluma. A search warrant for the motel room and an arrest warrant for Rector were issued for suspected felony domestic violence, felony vehicle pursuit, felony arson, and being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition.

At noon on the same day, Santa Rosa police -- along with Petaluma police officers, SWAT and crisis negotiators -- began to serve both warrants. Since Rector had a known history of violence and access to firearms, officers used an armored rescue vehicle, they said.

Police said Rector made numerous threats against the officers and even shot his firearm several times while inside his motel room, with at least one shot toward officers, the Sheriff's Office said.

Eventually, tear gas was discharged into the motel room.

After hours of attempted negotiations, Rector allegedly made suicidal statements and then a muffled shot came from his room, prompting SWAT officers to force their way in.

Police found Rector with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his head, the Sheriff's Office said. He was taken to the hospital where he succumbed to his injuries and died on Friday. A full death investigation to determine the exact manner and cause of his death will be carried out by the medical examiner.

In the room, police found a revolver and three spent rounds, they said. They also said a bullet strike was located in a nearby room.
The Sheriff's Office said that no Santa Rosa Police officers discharged their weapons during the standoff.  

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.