Watch CBS News

Coroner: Sonoma County gunman in shootout with deputies died of blunt-force trauma in crash

Sheriff deputies reveal new details around deadly Santa Rosa gun battle
Sheriff deputies reveal new details around deadly Santa Rosa gun battle 01:31

Investigators probing a shootout and chase in Santa Rosa involving a man firing an assault rifle at Sonoma County Sheriff's deputies before crashing head-on into a patrol car revealed new details Friday about the incident that left the gunman dead and four deputies hurt, one critically.

Police laid out a timeline that indicated the gunman, identified earlier this week as 53-year-old Santa Rosa resident Jose Luis Villasenor Cervantes, opened fire on deputies with an AK-47 in multiple locations during the pursuit and later died of injuries in the crash. 

The Santa Rosa Police Department said its detectives were investigating the incident as part of the county's officer-involved shooting protocol. The county's District Attorney's Office was also conducting its own investigation. 

Police and sheriff's deputies at the scene of a shooting and fatal crash involving a gunman with an AK-47 rifle on the 3600 block of Stony Point Road in Santa Rosa, March 4, 2024 KPIX

Deadly timeline

The incident began following a 911 call from witnesses reporting a man brandishing a firearm in a threatening way outside La Hacienda Del Toro, a restaurant/nightclub on the 3600 block of Stony Point Road in unincorporated Santa Rosa. Deputies responded at about 12:11 a.m., and four minutes later one deputy told dispatchers he was behind the suspect vehicle, which then made a U-turn on Todd Road and began driving in circles. 

The deputy attempted a high-risk traffic stop in a parking lot near Todd Road and Standish Avenue, and immediately Cervantes got out of his vehicle and started shooting at the deputy, police said. 

The deputy quickly drove to another section of the parking lot and took cover behind his patrol vehicle, advising dispatchers of shots fired. Additional deputies who arrived observed Cervantes returning to his vehicle and rummaging in the car's passenger area. Police said after deputies gave him multiple commands, he responded by firing on them a second time.

Four deputies returned fire, police said and during the exchange, three deputies were injured. At 12:18 a.m., Cervantes returned to his vehicle and headed west on Todd Road as deputies gave chase back to the parking lot of La Hacienda del Toro. A deputy fired one round after Cervantes began getting out of his vehicle and refused commands, police said.

Santa Rosa OIS
An officer involved shooting that occurred on March 4, 2024 in Santa Rosa County resulted in the death of the suspect, Jose Luis Villasenor Cervantes, 53, of Santa Rosa and injuring four deputies. (Santa Rosa Police Department via Bay City News) Santa Rosa Police Department

Cervantes then drove off again and headed north on Stony Point Road with deputies still in pursuit. At about 12:20 a.m., Cervantes crashed head-on with a sheriff's deputy patrol vehicle on the 3200 block of Stony Point Road; a deputy fired multiple rounds at him following the collision.

Other deputies pulled Cervantes from the wreck and put him in handcuffs, and while medics were called to treat Cervantes and the four injured deputies. Police said officers and deputies performed CPR on Cervantes; medics arrived and declared him dead at 12:30 a.m.

Coroner's report

On Wednesday, an autopsy by the county Coroner's Office indicated Cervantes had non-survivable injuries to his heart caused by blunt-force trauma to his chest likely caused by the vehicle collision, police said. He also had survivable gunshot wounds to his right arm and left knee and a laceration to the back of his head. His official cause of death was pending toxicology results.

Of the four deputies injured, one remains in the hospital recovering from his injuries and detectives have not been able to speak with him; it was unclear what injuries he suffered. Another deputy had several projectile wounds to his lower right leg, possibly from a gunshot wound, police said. A tourniquet was applied at the scene to control the bleeding from his injury. 

A third deputy had a shrapnel injury to her right hand and other shrapnel fragments that hit her body armor, body camera and pepper spray.  The fourth had a laceration to his left hand requiring stitches.

Police said additional information will be released as it becomes available throughout the investigation.

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.