Family members were left confused Sunday afternoon after learning the bizarre chain of events that ended in a fire, and Vallejo police killing a 29-year-old man and arresting another man.
Vallejo police Lt. Lee Horton said that the man was shot by an officer after he stuck a rifle in another officer's stomach in the burning house.
The dead man's mother, Lisa Moore, was at the scene Sunday afternoon with other family members to gain entry to her son's home in the 2500 block of Alameda Street. It was still cordoned off as of 4 p.m. She identified him as Jeremiah Moore.
"I'm still in shock," Moore said. "I never thought something like this would ever happen to us."
The Santa Rosa family members said they learned of the news Sunday morning, and had met with Vallejo police.
Police said the fiery incident began at about 1:28 a.m. when they received multiple reports that two men were involved in a loud argument in the 2500 block of Alameda Street and that the men were trying to burn their house down. A witness said he called 9-1-1 after the men began shattering the house windows.
When police arrived they saw that several vehicles outside had shattered windows and a naked man running inside. When they went inside the house, where smoke was visible, they confronted the naked man.
At that time, a second naked man appeared from the back of the house with a rifle and placed its barrel directly against one officer's stomach. Another officer fired his weapon
at the armed man and he dropped to the floor. Moore was pronounced dead later at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, Vallejo.
A neighbor told the Times-Herald hours later that she heard someone yell "Put the gun down!" numerous times before shots were fired.
The neighbor also said that the men had never caused any problems before, and were quiet.
Later inspection of the .22 long-barrel rifle revealed it had a round in the chamber, Horton said.
No officer was injured and the uninjured man, 28, was taken into custody. He was then taken to Sutter Solano Medical Center for observation, where he was still held as of noon Sunday, Lt. Sid DeJesus said.
"He was still hallucinating as of 8 a.m., and could not be questioned," DeJesus said. His name has not been released.
During the encounter the officers realized the two-story house was becoming engulfed in flames and called the Vallejo Fire Department. Officers had tried to search the house further but smoke and flames prevented them from doing so, Horton said.
The fire destroyed about 35 to 40 percent of the house, Vallejo Fire Battalion Chief Ray Jackson said. However, there's water and smoke damage throughout the house, and he estimated the damage to be about $60,000. He said the cause of the fire is under investigation.
Horton said other officers also followed a blood trail that started inside the house to the back yard where they found recently slaughtered animals. DeJesus later said the animals were three decapitated birds, two of which appeared to be canaries.
"It appeared that there was a ritualistic type of event at this place," DeJesus said. "It was an extremely bizarre situation."
Although the investigation is continuing, police said it appeared one or both men had shut the power to the house, shattered numerous windows in the house and in two or three of their own cars parked outside, and that one or both were under the influence of some sort of hallucinogenic.
DeJesus said police have not determined the exact type of hallucinogenic pending toxicology result, but he also said that "we've dealt with meth, PCP before. But this is something different ... based on their rabid behavior."
Jeremiah Moore's mother said her son, the eldest of three children, had Asperger's Syndrome, a form of autism, and had never been a drug addict.
"He was happy," Lisa Moore said. "He had done well for himself."
Jeremiah Moore was a steam pipe fitter, and had recently become a journeyman in his union.
Moore moved into the rental home with the other man, with whom he was in a relationship, more than a year ago, Lisa Moore said.
The couple recently decided to create a community garden, and had invited family and friends to a party at their Alameda Street home at 1 p.m.
"(Jeremiah) told me that the party is going to have no alcohol, just vegetables," Lisa Moore said. "He was very excited about it."
A friend was coming to the party with an apple pie when he learned about the incident.
"They were very stable young men," said the friend, Ron Nicholson. "It's very upsetting."
Lisa Moore said her son was not a violent person, and that he was "not himself" during the incident. Jeremiah Moore's partner collects antiques, including guns, she said.
"I'm upset that this is going to be his legacy, what people are going to remember him for," she said. "He was not like this."
The couple's landlord, Courtney Thomas, also told the Times-Herald that the couple have been "great tenants," always paying rent on time and that they took good care of the house.
"We've raised him as best as we could," father Eugene Moore said.
Horton said the officers involved in Sunday's shooting have been placed on administrative leave in accordance with department procedure. The shooting also will be investigated by the department and Solano County District Attorney's office.
Horton said that anyone with information about this case is asked to contact police at 1 800 488-9383.
It was the 10th officer-involved shooting in Vallejo this year, and the sixth fatal one. It also was the 20th homicide in Vallejo this year, and second this weekend. On Saturday, Mauricio Dominguez, 20, was fatally shot in what witnesses said was a drive-by shooting. The 20 homicides also include the shooting death of an alleged robber by a store owner and the deaths of unborn twins in a double homicide Sept. 6.
Jeremiah Moore's family said the couple has a non-aggressive, dark brindle Pitbull mix, named Snickers, who has been missing since the incident.
Anyone who has seen her is asked to call 477-3150. ___
(c)2012 Times-Herald (Vallejo, Calif.)
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