May 24, 2017
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Sheriff's office releases details on SSU officer involved shooting

May 12, 2017

The suspect in the Sonoma State University officer involved shooting has been identified as 22-year-old Eduardo Martinez Sanchez of Santa Rosa. The Sonoma County Sheriff’s office is continuing to investigate this incident that occurred at about 4:45 a.m. on May 5, 2017 in Cotati. 

To date sheriff’s detectives have interviewed all the identified witnesses to the event. The following is a summary of the accounts of that early morning. Just after 2 a.m., a Cotati police officer and sergeant were on duty and had broken up a physical fight in the downtown area where a number of bars were closing. A SSU police officer had responded to downtown Cotati to assist the Cotati officers. As this initial fight was resolved, the officers were alerted to another fight across the street. 

As they responded to this fight the officers heard what they originally believed was five to eight gunshots. Upon viewing their bodycam footage later; they determined it was four shots. The shots were described as being fired nearby and in rapid succession. The officers took cover as they thought they were being fired at. As the officers faced east on E. Cotati Ave. they observed numerous people running towards them westbound. 

When these people arrived at the officers’ location they described briefly that a man was beating up a woman and when they tried to intervene, the man started shooting at them. 

Officers responded to the area where the shots were fired. They found clothing at the corner of La Plaza and E. Cotati Ave. Upon further canvassing they located four shell casings from a handgun on the south side of E. Cotati Ave. between Charles St. and La Plaza Dr. 

Rohnert Park Public Safety Officers also responded to the scene and advised that they were with potential victims of the shooting at Starbucks in the 600 block of E. Cotati Ave. Cotati Police interviewed five witnesses who had similar accounts of what occurred. One witness, a 20-year-old woman, stated she was on E. Cotati Ave. near Charles St. when she saw the suspect, described as a shorter Hispanic male with short hair, yelling at a woman. She then saw the man striking the woman. The witness intervened and struck the suspect in the face twice. The suspect then hit the witness in the face, grabbed her by the throat, pulled out a silver colored handgun and threatened to kill her. 

One of the witness’ friends, a 24-year-old woman, saw what was happening. She pulled the first witness away from the suspect and started to flee along with the rest of the nearby witnesses. As the witnesses were running away the suspect shot four rounds in their direction. None of the rounds hit anyone. 

At about 4:45 a.m. the SSU Officer was driving eastbound in the 100 block of E. Cotati Ave. after attending a debriefing at the Cotati Police Department when he saw Sanchez emerge from a creek bed on the south side of E. Cotati Ave. He matched the description of the suspect from the earlier shots-fired incident. The officer turned around and contacted him. 

The officer exited his patrol car and made contact with Sanchez. Believing this was the suspect from the earlier shooting incident, the officer attempted to detain him.

He physically pushed the officer backwards and pulled away from his grasp and started to run westbound on E. Cotati Ave. The officer used his Taser in an attempt to subdue the suspect. He deployed the Taser into his back and Sanchez fell momentarily but then got up and continued running northwest across E. Cotati Ave. 

The SSU Officer continued to chase him, who then entered an enclosed fenced area of the New Hope Church at 183 E. Cotati Ave. As the officer was chasing him, he saw him grab his waistband several times, attempting to pull an object out. Sanchez turned his body towards the officer several times as he was running away and the officer clearly saw a silver object stuck in his waistband that he was attempting to pull out. Based on the earlier descriptions given of a silver handgun, the officer was certain Sanchez was trying to pull a handgun on him. 

Once Sanchez entered the enclosed area of the church he slowed to a walk. He again had his hand at the front of his waistband and started to turn towards the officer. The officer, in fear for his life, fired two rounds at him, which hit Sanchez in the back. He went down to the ground, at which point responding Cotati officers arrived and assisted taking him into custody. Officers immediately started life saving efforts and requested medical aid. 

A loaded, silver colored semi-automatic handgun was found in some bushes close to the location where Sanchez was shot. This handgun was of the same caliber as the casings that were located earlier and it was reported stolen out of Maryland. This was a low-light situation due to the time of day. Sonoma State University does not issue bodycams to their officers. 

Sanchez was immediately taken to a local hospital where he is still alive and listed in critical condition. He is currently on parole and has a lengthy history of weapons, gang and violent offenses. 

Upon completion of the investigation, the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office will be recommending numerous felony charges against Sanchez. The Cotati Police Department is also conducting an investigation against him for numerous felony charges. The Sonoma State Officer’s name is not being released at this time.