A bizarre shootout at a Rastafarian church in Northern California earlier this week has sent two Yuba County sheriff’s deputies to the hospital and another man to an early grave.
According to a report from the Los Angeles Times, Yuba County Sherriff officers responded to a call on Tuesday morning at the Sugarleaf Rastafarian Church -- located northeast of Sacramento -- after the head of the church, Heidi Lepp, called 911 to report that one of her bud trimmers had gone out of his head and was destroying their marijuana farm.
During the call, Lepp warned police to be careful because the man was in possession of a gun and had become violent.
When deputies arrived on the scene, the crazed man, who had been working for the church’s marijuana cultivation operation in exchange for room and board, took off on foot and hid in a nearby home. The two veteran officers eventually gained access to the residence, where they were fired upon and seriously wounded by the suspect, the report reads.
However, before getting themselves out of the house, the deputies managed to squeeze off a couple of rounds of return fire. It wasn’t until after a SWAT team shot tear gas into the home and then sent in a robot to assess the situation that they learned one of the bullets they had fired during the exchange had, in fact, killed the suspect.
The two deputies were life flighted to a nearby hospital, where they remain in serious condition. A report from NBC affiliate KCRA indicates that both are expected to survive.
The suspect, a large Hispanic man in his 30’s, was part of a culture of mostly peaceful people called “trimmigrants,” who travel the California landscape and work for various marijuana farms throughout the grow season.
It is not yet known what caused the man to become agitated to the point of destruction and violence.
A press release from the Yuba County Sheriff’s Department indicates that a full investigation is still underway.