Mark moody

A good man is dead, according to the dozens of family members, friends and acquaintances who contacted the Mountain Democrat this week about Mark Moody.

This reporter lost track of the many individuals who called or wrote to say that Mark Moody was their friend, be it neighbor, soccer buddy, Little League colleague, fellow worshiper at the local church or lifelong pal. Even, some confidants said, sheriff’s deputies who knew the Mark who was not afraid to get involved in his local community despite his mental illness. Mark Moody suffered from bipolar disorder. As Moody’s cousin, Jaime Qual, summed it up, “Everyone knew of Mark’s medical condition,” and still
“he was one of the most well loved people in this community.” “He befriended everyone everywhere he went. No matter where he went he knew someone,” Qual said. Despite the 10-year difference in their ages, Moody, 41, “treated me like a sister. (When visiting) he never left me out; he took me everywhere with his friends.”
The son of Marilyn and Richard Moody, Mark moved to Camino with his family in 1978, when he was
11. That fall he attended Camino Elementary School where, on the first day of school, he met lifelong friend Greg Reyes. “He came up and started talking to me as though he knew me,” Reyes said.
A characteristic Moody had a knack for, many others have confirmed. The two boys subsequently grew up together, camping and fishing with each other’s families, playing soccer and baseball in school as well as in county competition during the summer months and skiing together throughout the winter.Even after Reyes got married and moved down the hill, the pair kept in touch just about every week, he said, continuing to have a lot in common as they became parents. “His son (Kyle, age 12) was the most important thing in his life,” Reyes said. “He was so happy Kyle was living with him, that he had custody of his son.” Mark Moody took over the full-time care of 12-year-old Kyle when his estranged wife began suffering health problems, according to Marilyn Moody. “Mark got CDs on typing, science, history, so that he could help (Kyle) catch up on his studies,” Marilyn said. “He went from low grades to all A’s.” Mark was also trying to teach his son how to be an extrovert, to have confidence in himself, Marilyn said. “His son has been his life.” But it wasn’t just his son that Mark tried to influence. He is also well known for coaching preschoolers through the Lions Club and local soccer teams, even when his son wasn’t involved, Marilyn said. As one man put it who didn’t want to be identified, he not only coached, “he invested his life in these kids. The parents, even local law enforcement officers and attorneys, placed their trust in him.” Probably Moody’s claim to fame in the Camino and Pollock Pines communities was as lead organizer of the West Slope Soccer Camp, which boasted 300 children during its flagship summer of 2006. Friend Julian De Herrera told the Democrat that even though Moody was on a fixed budget himself, “if a child couldn’t afford it, he would pay out of his own funds. He didn’t want anyone left out.” Due to his illness, Moody couldn’t keep up the soccer camp and couldn’t find anyone to take it over. The successful venture fizzled out. “We were like brothers,” De Herrera said of his friendship with Moody. “He had a disability and I have a disability. We talked a lot. He could talk to you for a few minutes and put a smile on your face. He was perfect at that.” Moody was as generous with children off the soccer field as he was on, according to De Herrera. In the years preceding having full-time custody of his son, he befriended the youths in his neighborhood. “He was a big hit with the kids. In the summer he turned on the sprinklers in his yard for them and played kickball with them. A lot of these kids are hurting right now; they don’t understand.” When Kyle was with Mark, “he would make a big blowout event, bring all the kids from the neighborhood over for a barbecue just to make his son happy,” De Herrera added. Knowing Moody from Camino Community Church, De Herrera knew something of his spiritual side as well; knew of his love for reading the Bible and helping others. Dave Morrison, pastor of Pollock Pines Community Church, concurred that Moody attended his church off and on during the years. “He was always eager to learn. He would sit in the front row (at church) and always paid attention,”Morrison said, joking over what a pleasure it was as a pastor to have someone who didn’t fall asleep during his sermons. “Mark showed a serious interest in spiritual things,” Morrison elaborated. “He studied his Bible and helped serve in our Friday night program called Helping Ends Meet, a ministry to folks who have needs. He had good friends here and we have good memories of Mark. He was enjoyed by us all.” In spite of the tragic part of his life that led to his death, Morrison added regarding Moody’s illness, it was the many good parts — Mark’s laughter, for instance — that sticks with everyone. In fact, Mark Moody had an infectious laugh, according to those who knew him. “He was always a happy guy looking for the best in life,” Reyes said toward the end of our interview. “Always so generous, always willing to help others out. How ironic that in the end he’s the one that needed help. The illness got the best of him that day and didn’t let go.” “He was the first of our group to go,” said a devastated Sally Holwerda, fellow member with Mark of Bipolar Insights, a county support group for individuals suffering from the destructive disease. “It hit so close to home,” Holwerda went on to say, describing the terrible struggle bipolar patients suffer trying to live normal, wholesome lives all the while being followed by the dark shadow that is mental illness. Mark Moody was killed June 12 by a sheriff’s sharpshooter when he allegedly pointed a rifle at a sheriff’s deputy. Services are 3 p.m. today at Chapel of the Pines.
Contact Denise Siino at
(530) 344-5062 or e-mail her
SWAT deputy
involved in fatal
shooting ID’dThe El Dorado County sheriff’s SWAT team deputy who fatally shot Camino resident Mark Moody last week has been identified as Lance Bryant, according to sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Bryan Golmitz.
Bryant along with other SWAT deputies responded to a call on Waxwing Lane last Thursday evening, June 12, after 41-year-old Moody, who suffered from bipolar disorder, reportedly made two calls to sheriff’s dispatch stating that he wanted to hurt himself. Moody had been shooting in the neighborhood prior to making the calls and continued to fire his weapon — a .22 rifle — even after sheriff’s deputies and a CHP aircraft arrived on scene, Golmitz said in a media statement at the time. Moody was fatally shot by Bryant when he allegedly pointed his rifle in the direction of SWAT team officers. Bryant, who has been with the department four years, was immediately placed on administrative leave. A multi-agency investigation into the incident is pending, Golmitz said.

SWAT sharpshooter
kills Camino man

Thursday evening, an El Dorado County sheriff’s SWAT deputy fatally shot a man in Camino who authorities say pointed a .22-caliber rifle at the SWAT team at the scene of a standoff. Sheriff’s deputies rushed to 2681 Waxwing Lane shortly after 6:50 p.m. when Mark Moody, reportedly in his mid-30s, made a call to 911 dispatchers stating that he had a gun and wanted to hurt himself, according to sheriff’s Sgt. Phil Chovanec. After making the statement to dispatchers, Moody apparently fired his weapon and the phone line went dead, leading dispatchers to believe a shooting or suicide might have occurred, Chovanec said. While deputies were driving to the scene, Moody reportedly called 911 again, this time making threats to not only shoot himself but any responding law enforcement officers as well. Responding deputies formed a perimeter around one of two houses on the expansive, heavily forested Waxwing property — which reportedly belongs to Moody’s mother — where Moody was seen carrying a .22 rifle by an officer in a California Highway Patrol aircraft circling overhead. Moody apparently lived in a separate house on his mother’s lot along with a son of about 8 years, according to neighbors. Deputies at the scene called in SWAT after Moody allegedly fired at the Sacramento-based CHP Air 21 plane, forcing the aircraft to gain altitude while continuing to circle above the area. A representative from the CHP office in Placerville told the Mountain Democrat that even after achieving an altitude of 6,000 feet the crew of the aircraft had no trouble keeping the suspect in their sights using the plane’s high resolution camera, which can see a license plate from a mile up. “It’s the same camera
➤ see SHOOTING, page A-14
used on the Air Force Predator spy plane,” the officer said. Neighbors stated that Moody had “fired many shots” into the woods surrounding the home several minutes earlier, and continued to fire rounds in the area long after officers arrived on scene. “I heard the sound of a .22 like target practice, ‘bam-bam-bam bam- bam,’” a neighbor, Joe, told the Mountain Democrat Friday morning. “I heard it last week too and I thought, ‘I sure hope they know what they’re shooting at,’” Joe said, waving a hand in reference to the Audubon Hills neighborhood that is called home by numerous families with children. “It’s too bad,” Joe continued. “He was just out here Wednesday night playing with a remote control plane with his son. Then I brought out a guitar for him and we were playing guitars for a while; we stayed out here (near the two men’s driveways) until the mosquitos came out. “I can’t say that I knew him well, but we were friendly. He was friendly with everyone,” Joe said. When the SWAT officers approached Moody sometime after 8 p.m., “I heard a lot of yelling,” Joe added, saying that he couldn’t hear what the deputies were saying. Assuming the officers were ordering Moody to stand down, he apparently refused. Instead, he reportedly aimed his rifle in the deputies’ direction, Chovanec said. A moment later, one of the SWAT deputies fired two shots at Moody, killing him. Moody was pronounced dead at the scene by Cal Fire medics. No officers were injured. The name of the officer who fired the fatal shots is being withheld. Aneighbor who didn’t want to be named called Moody a “very nice man. Occasionally he would check in on me or I would check in on him. I considered him a friend. He’d give the shirt off his back to you. I have daughters, and he was always respectful of them and my wife. The neighbor said he didn’t know what might have set Moody off, but added that he took his father’s death a couple of years ago “real hard.” Mark Moody was the son of Richard “Dick” Moody, former owner of the Sugar Pine Inn on Carson Road and one-time candidate for a seat with the county Board of Supervisors. Dick was very active in the Camino community until his death about three years ago. The neighbor also said that Moody might have been having financial difficulties that upset him. The shooting Thursday is the fifth in the past year where a sheriff’s deputy killed a suspect armed with either a lethal weapon or what appeared to responding officers to be a lethal weapon. In each of these cases, the suspect-turned-victim was believed to have been suffering from mental illness, which appears to have been the case with Moody. Sheriff Jeff Neves, in a statement made to the Mountain Democrat Friday afternoon said he was “incredibly troubled by the upswing in the apparent trend of incidents we are having with people with mental illness.” Deputies worked into the night investigating the scene and talking with neighbors up and down Waxwing Lane and Audubon Drive. Two residents in the area, Richard Riedel and EID Director George Osborne, told the Democrat that officers knocked on their doors at around 11 p.m. asking questions about what they had seen or heard. A multi-agency investigation into the incident is pending. Mark Moody leaves behind his mother and a young son, neither of which were home at the time of the shooting.
Contact Denise Siino at (530)
344-5062 or e-mail her at dsiino@

Deputies to learn more
about mental illness
➤ see TRAINING, page A-10
In response to an increasing number of incidents involving mentally ill residents, the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department has teamed up with mental health experts to provide crisis training to its deputies. Crisis intervention training brings together the Sheriff’s Department and the Mental Health Department, as well as the local chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. The program aims to teach law enforcement officials how to identify and better understand mental illness and the effects it has on the community, according to information e-mailed by Sgt. Bryan Golmitz, the sheriff’s public information officer. Professional collaboration between the Sheriff’s Office and the Mental Health Department is critical to reducing tragic and unwanted critical incidents that involve mentally ill individuals,” said Sheriff Jeff Neves. “I welcome the opportunity to participate in the crisis intervention training. “My goal as sheriff is to provide continued training to our deputies, which is directly tied to the service level our community receives,” Neves added.
In the last 15 months sheriff’s deputies have been involved in four shooting incidents that have resulted in the death of a person suffering from a mental illness.
In June 2007 deputies got into a shoot-out with Eddie Mies after he shot and killed his father in Shingle Springs. Mies was killed after several tense hours. Three deputies and a K-9 were shot in the incident; they survived.
That shooting was followed by the shooting of Rajan Vaid in El Dorado Hills. Vaid reportedly pointed a weapon, later identified as a BB gun, at a deputy after the victim called 911 to report that he was highly intoxicated.
In May 2008 Matthew Zaiser died after being shot by a deputy who responded to the victim’s 911 call. Zaiser reportedly pointed what appeared to be a rifle at law enforcement officers.
Shooting victim Mark Moody died in Camino when a SWAT team member shot him during a standoff in June 2008. Moody also made 911 calls prior to his death, allegedly saying that he wanted to hurt himself. The deaths sparked public debate and discord regarding deputies’ training to deal with the mentally ill. “Law enforcement officers typically receive eight hours of training on how to manage mentally ill people in the basic law enforcement academy as required by Police Officer Standards and Training,” states the sheriff’s information. “El Dorado County’s crisis intervention training is a progressive continuation of the fundamentals taught in academy.” Dr. John Bachman, director of El Dorado County’s Mental Health Department, said the necessity of crisis intervention training is apparent by the number of calls related to mentally ill people the Sheriff’s Department has recently encountered. “This training is geared to provide deputies with a greater understanding of the mentally ill, their needs and strategies to deal with such situations,” Bachman said. Sheriff’s deputies will participate in a day-long training session. A “core group” of deputies will then follow up with a more intensive 40-hour class to learn how to handle crisis situations that involve mentally ill people, qualifying them to “provide ongoing mental health training for additional law enforcement staff.” “Instruction will come from four nationally recognized experts with law enforcement and mental health backgrounds,” the e-mail states. “Course content is divided into sections that include dual diagnosis, overview of mental disorders, suicide assessment, ‘suicide by cop,’ crisis management and much more.” NAMI and some suffering from mental illness will provide the deputies with firsthand accounts of what it’s like to live with mental illness.
E-mail Noel Stack at or
call (530) 344-5065.
We must strive to understand
mental illness
I have been very concerned about the rash of law enforcement shootings of mentally ill males in our county. I am a law-abiding citizen and respect the job that law enforcement does for us. I also have a son with mental illness. He is not mentally ill from some defect in his upbringing. He had for the most part a normal, loving childhood. He has a brain disorder. Mental illness often presents itself just as a young person enters adulthood. As we all know, mental health services are often one of the first things cut in our budgets. Why do we have to kill someone with a mental illness? Why can’t a “sharp shooter” just injure someone who is a danger to himself or others? If a person has cancer or diabetes, most others are sympathetic. If a person is diagnosed with a mental illness, they are often shunned or ridiculed. I, in no way, would want a peace officer injured or killed. But I think those in our county need a lot more training and understanding in the area of mental illness. It’s unconscionable that so many disabled individuals are being killed in our county. I hope the tragedy of severe mental illness never happens to you.

Shooting was simply a tragedy
I’ve been sitting here reading comments about articles online regarding the shooting death of someone who was not only connected to my life but to many other people I know and love. I don’t know if people are really just naive, stupid or just outright cold, but I just can’t leave it alone. Mark Moody wasn’t some bad guy who set out to hurt anyone and the law enforcement agencies involved weren’t some militant group out to kill mentally ill people. This was a tragedy. Mark had friends spread out through several law enforcement agencies and people who loved him and cared about him throughout the community. The man we knew would have never tried to hurt anyone, but Thursday night we lost the man we knew to a manic episode. Yes, he called for help. Yes, he was shot and killed. Yes, the officer did what he had to do. Yes, Mark fired a weapon at officers. Yes, Mark was a loving father, a loving son, a loving friend. Yes, the officers are loving family members and friends. Yes, yes, yes. My point is tragic choices were made Thursday night. Whether he was in a healthy state of mind or not, Mark made a choice and in doing so set into motion the tragic events that followed. I can’t imagine what was going on his mind and as much as I wish Mark could have been tasered, or the weapon shot right out of his hand or tranquilized with a dart gun — anything that might have saved him, I also know that I have not had to go into the unknown on a call with reports of weapons fire and stare at the barrel of a gun and know that I have a choice to make that is going to affect the rest of my life. Some of the online comments are just so ridiculous and callous. There are no “sides” to this tragedy, no “good guy,” “bad guy” scenario. Mark had an illness that got the best of him Thursday night. The El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department got a call that someone needed their help. That’s how their night started, trying to help someone in distress. Events unfolded and in the end everyone lost. Mark’s family and his friends are left wondering what happened during the final hours of his life that triggered his desperation. But the one thing we all know is that whatever happened in those final hours was not the way Mark lived his life. Mark will be dearly missed and forever loved. Some of you people should be ashamed of yourselves and take a good look in the mirror and at your loved ones. Is your little corner of the world as perfect as you seem to think it is?
Former El Dorado County resident

Cover-up and stupidity
This lawsuit against Karen Mies, who had nothing to do with
that tragic day June 5, 2007, is disgusting. Ballistic reports
not being released after over a year, ridiculous. It certainly
smells like a cover-up. Our district attorney says he is going to
release his report. But that is not the ballistic report. There are
strong, widespread rumors of “shot by friendly fire,” “the
deputies shot each other, etc.
A sleazy attorney wanting to make a big name for himself by
attempting to find a loophole in the Firemans Rule, at the costo f throwing a widow out of her home. At the same time this
attorney is making his clients Yaws and Murphy look like idiots.
Yaws and Murphy are both back at work, yet the lawsuit
claims they suffer from emotional and mental stress. Eddie
Mies was mentally stressed, so now we have Yaws and Murphy
in the same condition as Eddie Mies when he snapped!? But
they are carrying guns in the capacity of law enforcement, and
they are going to protect us in the county? You’ve got to be kidding.
There are rumors about who put the hold on the ballistic
report. Rumors are it is not Sheriff Neves, so who does that
point to?
If anyone has cause for a lawsuit, it is Karen Mies, who has
not only lost her husband and son, but has been forced to go
through mental, emotional and financial stress by the people
who are sworn to protect her.
The cover-up and stupidity have gone on long enough.
shooting, stop shooting. We’re ihit and the K-9 is hiit.” • Many members of the cornmunity also heard the scantier traffic, which has become the focal point of concerns that the deputies might have been injured by friendly fire. Why else would the deputy tell his, own colle.agues to stop shooting? Sheriff Neves has explained that at that moment none of – t he deputies had seen Eddie Mies with a shotgun, only the revolver seen by Murphy a few minutes before. When they heard shotgun fire, they assumed officers surrounding the field were/iring, not Eddie Mies. Yaws purportedly did see Mies, however, after the fire power from the rounds that struck him knocked him to the ground. Then he reportedly saw Mies through the open area near the base ofthe bushes half sitting, half lying on his back, legs outstretched, reloading his shotgun after allegedly firing upon the deputies. Neves has said that only four officers fired their weapons that day: Meekma, Murphy and Yaws — all of whom returned fire at Mies with their handguns — and the deputy who killed EddieMies.
Wounded, the three deputies made their vi’ay to safety. Meekma was picked up on Tammy Lane and taken to the Shingle Springs Community Center where a Calstar helicopter was waiting. Murphy and Yaws head-^ ed io Keith Downs’ garage, where medics helped them to a waiting CHP helicopter. Allthree officers were taken, to Sutter Roseviiie Medical Center. Murphy was struck once in the leg, and Meekma’s clavicle and shoulder blade were shattered when a round entered her body through a seam of her bulletrproof vest. Yaws suffered wounds to his arm, chest and upper leg, damage caused by at least two rounds and possibly three. Donder suffered a wound to the leg. Eddie Mies, wounded by one 40 caliber round, headed for home. Meanwhile, sheriff’s deputies behind the scenes were trying to find out what they could about the identity and motive of the man they were trying to apprehend. They handcuffed Jake Mies and his girlfriend Kim Fetters, who had gone with neighbor Jim Forshey to his property just north of the Mies land. Both Jake and Fetters claim that sheriff’s deputies roughed them up unnecessarily. Deputies also handcuffed Forshey’s 72-year-old wife Shirley inside her home and detained Jake’s older brother Ben after he arrived from Rancho Cordova. Jim Forshey recently told, the Democrat that his wife was suffering from a physical ailment at the time, and her hands locked in handcuffs behind her back caused great duress and pain. No explanation has been given for Shirley Forshey’s detention except that all of the officers involved in the incident were operating on a heightened sense of anxiety, according to Neves. All four individuals were later released. Carrying the shotgun, Eddie Mies made his way back through the fence onto his own property. As he crossed an open area toward a pine tree behind which a bushy alcove obscured a small dinghy, deputy Todd Carver, one of three deputies crouched behind a nearby stand of buck brush, stood up. The two men faced each other for a moment, then Mies allegedly fired at Carver. He missed. Shotgun in hand. Carver fired once at Mies, then again, following years of law enforcement training that teaches officers that a second shot is more crippling than just one when a threat needs to be stopped. Severely ‘ injured, Eddie Mies followed the perimeter of the brush-lined alcove and hid, his yellow shirt apparently still visible to Carver. Mies reportedly pumped his shotgun, loading another shell while ejecting the empty one. Carver raised his shotgun again and Mies ducked to avoid the blow. He was struck a third time and fell to the ground. Sheriff’s deputies fired a huge, air quaking volley of defensive suppression fire to see if Mies would move. He did not. Still,.they waited for the department’s SWAT team to arrive before approaching Mies to confirm that he was deceased. Besides the deputy’s broadcasted plea to his fellow officers to stop shooting, another puzzling element of the incident if the deputies were fired upon by Eddie Mies’, shotgun alone and not friendly fire is why they didn’t receive a like number of wounds as did Mies. Mies’autopsy revealed 16, wounds from 00 buckshot in addition to a wound from the single 40 caliber bullet. Sheriff •••Neves could not explain why the deputies were not injured more extensively but speculated that surrounding tree branches and shrubbery may have shielded them from flying rounds. The incident over, Sierra Law Enforcement Chaplaincy immediately responded to the emergency with counselors assigned to the affected deputies and their families. No counselors were assigned to Karen Mies or her family to help them in their grief over the loss of Arthur and Eddie. While the District Attorney’s Office has not released an official statement regarding Carver’s actions in the incident pending the completion and release .of the inter-agency investigation into the incident, Asisistant District Attorney Bill Clark told the Democrat recently that he expects the fatal shooting of Eddie Mies to be justified. “We do not anticipate filing any criminal charges,” Clark said. Carver was approved to return to work after a short administrative leave. Everyone involved in the incident has sought comfort through various sources over the past 10 months. But ultimately only- one man, Eddie Mies had all the answers.’ He was’ known to be suffering from mental illness. Marlene Nadler-Moodie, a clinical nurse working with psychiatric patients at Scripps Mercy Hospital in San Diego, said in a article last year that “when people who are psychotic or severely mentally ill attack people, they often do so out of fear or a need to protect themselves … The public has a belief that most of the violence (in society) comes from psychiatricpatients. But most psychiatric patients are so dis- ‘- continued from A-5 ordered they can’t plan. They are peaceful. They are suffering.” Dr. E. Fuller Torrey, president atjd executive director of the Treatment Advocacy Center iiil Virginia and associate director for laboratory, research ‘ at: the Stanley Medical Research Institute in Maryland, agrees that many mentally ill people are incapable of elaborate planning because of the portion of the brain affected by the illness. Not necessarily so of people suffering from paranoid schizo|)hrenia, he told the Democrat recently. “People suffering from schizophrenia lose touch with reality. They can hallucinate or experience delu- ‘ sions (become convinced of things that aren’t true). Paranoid schizophrenics can develop delusions of persecution and act on them,” Torrey said. The first signs of paranoid schizophrenia usually surface between the ages of 15 and 34. Eddie Mies, who was never professionally diagnosed so his specific form of mental illness is unknown, began experiencing symptoms in his 20s and was “withdrawn and paranoid” by his 30th birthday, his mother has said. Notwithstanding all the discrepancies and disagreements surrounding this incident, . one thing is sure. There were no winners. The Mies family lost a husband and father, brother and son. The injured sheriff’s deputies and Carver lost an irrecoverable part of themselves.. “These officers are also suffering and will never be the same,” Sheriff Neves said recently. Several months after the incident, a neighbor on Tammy Lane shared a perspective that may address everyone’s anguish. “I understand (the Sheriff’s Department’s) position; they’ve got a tough job I wouldn’t want. But things have got to be handled differently.”Contact Denixe Siino at
{530) 344-5062 or e-mail
“when people who are psychotic or severely mentally ill attack people, they often do so out of fear or a need to protect themselves,.;, The public has a belief that most of the violence in society comes from psychiatric patients. But mi)stipsy0idtric patients are so disordered they c0-tpldit. They are peaceful. They are sU0riAg.”
– Marlene Nadler-Moodle, clinical nurse at Scripts Mercy Hospital
her at dsiino@intdemocrat.Delete Reply Reply to All Forward Move Spam Actions Next Previous

‘Mentally disturbed’ man shot dead
By Denise Marie Siino
Democrat staff writer
EL DORAD HILLS — With a single shot, an El Dorado County sheriff’s deputy killed a young El Dorado Hills man Tuesday morning. The incident began about 9:50 in the 2500 block of Highland Hills — a quiet neighborhood of large, well manicured homes — when the victim of the shooting, 23-year-old Rajan Vaid, called 911. During the call, Vaid told dispatchers that he had been drinking for four days and wanted to turn himself in, saying he had seen himself “running over the heads of children.” Vaid’s parents, Naveen and Paula Vaid, were home at the time of the incident. Immediately following Rajan’s 911 call, Paula made one of her own, stating to dispatch that her son was very disturbed and had a gun. This was not the first time sheriff’s deputies have been called to the Vaid residence, according to sheriff’s spokesman Lt. Kevin House. House could not elaborate about what the previous calls for service were for, but indicated that Vaid has a history of mental problems. The first deputy to arrive on the scene quickly called for back-up. Once the second deputy arrived, the pair began searching the grounds for Rajan when the young man appeared from behind a large pine tree in the back yard. “He pointed a gun at the officer and struck a pose like he was going to shoot,” House said. At that point one of the deputies, whose name is temporarily being withheld, fired a single shot, House said, placing his hand over his own chest. “The deputy has been with us for only a short time, but he was with other agencies before us,” House said of the deputy who fired the fatal shot. Rajan Vaid dropped to the ground. Paramedics arriving on the scene confirmed that he died from the gunshot. House was not sure what type of weapon the victim had, but a witness at the scene who saw deputies carry it away described it as a semi-automatic handgun, possibly a .45. Neighbors who live a couple doors down from the Vaids, Diane and Paul Leslauriers, said they were a quiet Indian family who had lived in the neighborhood for seven or eight years. “The way the houses here are situated you don’t really get to know your neighbors,” Diane said. “It’s a shame.” Paul remembered meeting Naveen once, saying he seemed like a nice, quiet man. Another neighbor, Barbara, did not remember ever meeting the parents but had had several encounters with Rajan. “He would frequently come over asking for a ride to the Pizza Factory,” Barbara said. “He was polite but always looked a little disheveled. He was here just last Friday in fact, asking for a ride. I told him no, that I had a broken foot, which was true.” As sheriff’s investigators arrived, so did El Dorado County Sheriff Jeff Neves. “Anytime there’s a shooting, especially when an officer is involved, I like to come out and make sure everyone’s OK,” Neves said. “I tell the officers involved what they can expect over the next few days and I give them moral support. This sort of thing takes an emotional toll on everyone,” Neves said. “Honestly, we’re still reeling from the shooting in Shingle Springs a couple months ago and the CHP death last month,” Neves added. Neves said sheriff’s deputies had been out to the Vaid residence in the recent past, responding to problems involving Rajan. “Medication issues maybe,” Neves said. “It’s unfortunate when someone has issues like that that get out of control.”
Contact Denise Siino at 344-
5062 or e-mail her at Mother
Lode News reporter Andy
Laughlin contributed to this story.

Officer who fatally shot EDH man a
9-month veteran of Sheriff’s Dept.
By Denise Marie Siino
Democrat staff writer
El Dorado County sheriff’s deputy Damien Walters, 26, was named as the officer who fatally shot Rajan Vaid outside his El Dorado Hills home on Tuesday morning. Walters fired on Vaid a little after 10 a.m. after the 23- year-old El Dorado Hills man — who has been described by family members as having mental problems and being on medication — fled to his back yard where he hid behind a large pine tree.
When Walters followed him, Vaid reportedly came out into the open and pointed a weapon toward the officer in an offensive posture, according to sheriff’s spokesman Lt. Kevin House. Vaid was pronounced dead on the scene by attending medics. The weapon he wielded was not lethal, but a Daisy brand Power Line Model 1700 air-powered handgun that shoots BBs. While Walters only fired one round at Vaid, an autopsy Wednesday revealed that the young man received a bullet wound to the left wrist as well as the chest, indicating that his hand was possibly raised in a firing position when Walters shot him, House said. A man purporting to be the Vaid family spokesman, Mohan Passi, questioned sheriff personnel at the scene about whether it was necessary to use deadly force against the young man, but Lt. House said he was not sure if that was the parents’ position or Passi’s personal opinion. “The deputy had no choice,” House said, pointing out the similarities between Vaid’s air gun and a .40-caliber Glock handgun commonly used by sheriff’s deputies, especially when the guns are pointed directly at you. “Could you tell the difference?” House said after providing pictures of the two guns to the media.
A stun gun only has an effective distance of about 20 feet, House added, saying, “It couldn’t have been used in this case.” Walters has been employed with the Sheriff’s Department since December 2006. Previous to that date he was employed as a full-time law enforcement officer by California State Parks. He is a six-year veteran of law enforcement. According to department policy, Sheriff Neves waited a couple of days before releasing Walters’ name to the media, giving the officer time to prepare for any aftermath. The name was released late Wednesday.
Contact Denise Siino at
344-5062 or e-mail her at

Man slain by officer
had BB or air gun
Rajan Vaid, the 23-year-old El Dorado Hills man who was shot and killed by an El Dorado County sheriff’s deputy Tuesday morning, was armed with a BB gun or air gun, not a deadly weapon as presumed, according to Lt. Kevin House. “Of course the deputy who shot him didn’t know that at the time,” House said. A situation like Tuesday morning’s shooting is “not the time to say, ‘Hey, hold out your weapon, let me take a look at it,’” House said. When ordered to stop by the sheriff’s deputy, Vaid ran into the back yard of the spacious 1- acre parcel, House said. When the deputy followed him, Vaid reportedly came out from behind a large pine tree, raised what looked like a real handgun and pointed it at the officer. With a single shot, the deputy killed Vaid shortly after 10 a.m. Per department policy, the name of the deputy is being withheld temporarily.
Nowhere in Sheriff’s Department policy does it state that deputies must wait to be fired upon before they can shoot, House said. “It is solely at the deputy’s discretion. If he feels his life is in danger he can fire the first round. “There’s a whole sequence of events that the officer has to process in a very short period of time, a matter of seconds, before he has to make a judgment call in a situation like this.” The incident began about9:50 a.m. in a quiet neighborhood of million-dollar homes on Highland Hills Drive off Silva Valley Parkway in El Dorado Hills. Vaid himself called 911 to report that he had been intoxicated for four days and wanted to turn himself in. He also told dispatchers that he had seen visions of himself “running over the heads of children.” The apparently mentally disturbed young man was the son of Naveen and Paula Vaid, who were home at the time of the incident. Immediately following Rajan’s 911 call, Paula also called to report that her son was “out of control” and they needed law enforcement presence to intervene, House said. At some point dispatch alerted responding deputies that Vaid was possibly carrying a gun. Vaid had had run-ins with sheriff’s deputies before, as recently as last week, House said, and had a history of mental problems. The deputy who killed Vaid will be on paid administrative leave while a multi-agency investigation team will examine the shooting and determine whether it was justified. “The deputy has been with us for only a short time, but he was with other agencies before us,” House said of the deputy who fired the fatal shot.
Contact Denise Siino at
344-5062 or e-mail her

Man killed by
deputies ID’dsheriff’s deputies have identified the man fatally shot and killed Saturday night, May 24, as 26-year-old Matthew James Zaiser. Deputies responded to 3386 Tartan Trail in El Dorado Hills shortly before 9 p.m. after Zaiser called 911 and threatened to run over neighborhood skateboarders who were making noise outside his home. Specifically, “He said he was going to run over the kids’ heads because they were too noisy,” said sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Bryan Golmitz. Zaiser’s parents were not home at the time of the incident.
Deputies, fearing for the children’s safety, arrived to find a white male in his 20s standing in his driveway near the street holding what appeared to be a scope-mounted rifle with a towel draped over it, Golmitz said. No children were in the vicinity. The officers ordered him to drop the weapon, but Zaiser reportedly refused. When he allegedly raised the rifle and pointed it at the deputies, two of the three officers fired a total of three shots. Zaiser was pronounced dead at the scene, Golmitz said. Zaiser was identified by fingerprints during an autopsy performed yesterday. Results of a toxicology screen for drugs or alcohol are not complete. Investigators found that the weapon was actually a black pellet rifle with a mounted scope. Golmitz said that a towel covered the center portion of the pellet rifle, leaving only the barrel and butt stock exposed. Golmitz later said that Zaiser had been reported as missing in 2006, and that a history of mental problems, including bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, were mentioned in that report. Following protocol, a multiagency task force is investigating Saturday’s shooting. Golmitz said the deputies were put on administrative leave in accordance with department policy. Their names should be released shortly, Golmitz added. The incident is eerily reminiscent of the September 2007 fatal shooting of 23-year-old Rajan Vaid in the nearby Highland Hills neighborhood. Vaid, who also had a history of mental problems, brandished a BB gun at deputies responding to his 911 call just prior to being killed by one of the officers.
Charlotte Sanchez-Kosa
and Denise Marie Siino,
Mountain Democrat staff
writers, contributed to this

Shooting appears properAfter three deputies and a police dog apparently were shot by a reportedly mentally disturbed man on June 5 in Shingle Springs, it must have been a moment of terrifying deja vu Sept. 11 when an El Dorado County sheriff’s deputy found himself face to face with a person in El Dorado Hills who had a history of mental problems and was pointing a weapon at him. The 23-year-old man had had a number of contacts with deputies, one as recently as the week prior to this occasion, according to sheriff’s spokesman Lt. Kevin House. When the young man, Rajan Vaid, stepped out from behind a pine tree and, according to House’s account, “struck a pose like he was going to shoot,” aiming the pistol at the officer. The deputy then did the only thing he could do under such described circumstances. He shot at the man with the pointed pistol. One shot killed him. Despite witnesses describing the gun as a high caliber semiautomatic pistol, it later was identified as a pellet gun. Though a pellet pistol is potentially less damaging than one that fires real bullets, it is not something that is easily identified. Even toy pistols can be deceivingly realistic. Pointing any type of weapon at a law officer is a threat to his or her life. Though a more thorough investigation and report will come much later (a report still remains uncompleted about the June 5 shooting) it appears from the facts available that this shooting was necessary and justified.
Our condolences go to the parents of the young man killed. It is tragic when a young person seems to lose his grip on reality and makes such a fatal mistake. At the same time we must sympathize with the officer who was forced by circumstances to defend himself with such lethality. We take solace from the fact that no law enforcement officers were injured.

We must deal with mental illness
Regarding Rajan Vaid: Considering all of the important community issues we face, I’m amazed that letter writer Ron Surbur would use his time to attack a grieving mother. We need to learn from this sad tragedy and not waste time with simple “point and shoot” anecdotes. Mental illness presents very difficult dilemmas. How can we help without the abuse of rights? Families have nowhere to turn. An expensive penal system is in wait, but no prevention or support mechanisms exist … In short, education, awareness and action must be taken.

Matthew James Zaiser
June 17, 1981 – May 24, 2008
Matthew James Zaiser, 26, of El Dorado Hills, Calif., died at home Saturday evening, May 24, 2008. Matthew was born on June 17, 1981, in Foster City, Calif., and moved to El Dorado Hills, Calif., in 1995 graduating from Oak Ridge High School in 1999. Matthew is survived by his parents, Jim and Judy Zaiser; brothers, Sean Duck and Jeffrey Zaiser; maternal grandmother, Eve Emerson; paternal grandfather, Bill Zaiser; nieces, Shannan, Kelsey and Sophia; and nephew, Tyler. Matthew enjoyed playing basketball, baseball and softball in local league games with his father and brothers. Matthew and his brothers would frequent Folsom Lake, throwing balls to their dogs and enjoying the outdoors. The outpouring of love and support from family and friends is greatly appreciated. A private family memorial service will be held on Thursday, May 29, at Green Valley Mortuary and Cemetery in Cameron Park, (530) 677-7171,
Gentle, thoughtful and loyal son, brother, uncle and friend,



  1. In the UK we don’t have an armed police force so it is extrerely rare for anyone to be shot by the police. It does happen but it gets enormous publicity and scrutiny. I am so sorry that this man was shot for being ill. Our prisons unfortunately are filled with mentally ill people because the commit ‘crimes’. The principal crime being that they don’t understand the world they are living in.

    1. see i am mentally ill and i understand the world perfectly clear. here in america ” land of the free ” you are not free to do anything you want without cop harassment and such. they will poison your food in jail or try to give you metal “inmate finds metal in food” i believe that sandwhich was meant for me but they’re so stupid they got the trays mixed up. if the fbi or us marshal’s don’t like you they will all come together and plot to try to kill you or your family and if you tell, like i do and blat it all over the world, then they don’t know what to do cause everybody knows now. they hate me and i don’t care. PEOPLE NEED TO KNOW THE TRUTH ABOUT AMERICA!!! all these situations are the TRUTH. thank you for taking the time to respond. PLEASE PASS THIS SITE ONTO YOUR FRIENDS EVERYWHRE AND ASK THEM TO DO THE SAME FOR ME. THANKS

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