My Two Census

Formerly the non-partisan watchdog of the 2010 US Census, and currently an opinion blog that covers all things political, media, foreign policy, globalization, and culture…but sometimes returning to its census/demographics roots.

A Yuba City, CA woman was shot and killed after a Census visit

The story is tragic and bizarre — after residents pointed a gun at a Census employee, attracting police to the area, a woman refused officers’ demands to lay down a shotgun she was carrying and was shot. It’s sad that an irrational fear of Census takers seems to have fueled gun threats yet again, and it’s even sadder that it had to result in the loss of a life this time. From Appeal-Democrat.com:

Woman shot, killed by Yuba City police

May 21, 2010 11:18:00 AM

A 67-year-old Yuba City woman was shot and killed by officers when she pointed a shotgun at them and refused to put it down, according to Yuba City police.

Victoria Helen Roger-Vasselin was pronounced dead late Thursday at her home at 764 Mariner Loop in an affluent neighborhood on the city’s far south side.
Roger-Vasselin was the sister of the late Thomas E. Mathews, a Yuba County judge and district attorney.

“They shot her dead,” Roger-Vasselin’s distraught son said outside the house Friday morning.

“I think she was just startled” by late visits to her home, he said.

Before he could give his full name, a relative or family friend took him by the arm and led him inside, shutting the door.
Officers went to the Mariner Loop home after receiving a call at 9:04 p.m. about weapons being brandished.

A U.S. Census worker “had been confronted by residents who pointed a firearm at the worker and said they would not answer any questions and closed the door,” said police spokeswoman Shawna Pavey.

When two male officers arrived, 51-year-old Lionel Patterson answered the door, armed with a handgun, police said.

“As officers were dealing with the male, a female approached the door with a shotgun and ignored officers’ orders to release the weapon. As the female advanced on officers, she continued to point the shotgun at officers in a threatening manner and the two officers fired their service weapons, hitting the female,” police said.

Both officers fired their guns, said Pavey, adding she didn’t believe Roger-Vasselin or Patterson fired.

Both officers were uniformed and clearly identifiable as police, Pavey said.

Pavey said toxicology testing after an autopsy Friday morning will determine if alcohol or drugs were factors in the incident.

The officers have been placed on routine administrative leave while the Sutter County District Attorney’s Office investigates the incident.

A neighbor, Bob Dhaliwal, said he was in bed when heard people, including one woman, shouting and yelling, followed by five or six shots. When he came outside, officers with guns drawn had the male suspect on the ground, then took him away in a patrol car, he said.

“All I saw was him being arrested. I assumed he shot somebody,” Dhaliwal said.

Patterson lives at the same address. Pavey and neighbors said it wasn’t clear what the relationship was between him and Roger-Vasselin.

Dhaliwal and other neighbors said they didn’t know Roger-Vasselin well.

“She kept to herself,” Dhaliwal said.

One neighbor, who declined to give her name, described Roger-Vasselin “pleasant but reserved,” almost reclusive.

“She was much more social when she moved first moved in. The economy was better then,” the neighbor said.

Neighbors said they had also received nighttime visits from a female census worker.

Roger-Vasselin owned the house for about three years but rented it for about six months while she worked in Hawaii, returning to Yuba City six to nine months ago, the neighbor said.

When her mother, Lillian Mathews-Crumrine, died in 1998, Roger-Vasselin lived in Kauai, Hawaii.

When the former judge, Thomas E. Mathews, died In 2005, Roger-Vasselin was living in San Francisco. Then 63 and a regional membership executive at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, she was one four employees involved in an age- discrimination lawsuit against the Marriott Corporation.

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34 Responses to “A Yuba City, CA woman was shot and killed after a Census visit”

  1. Yet Another Enumerator Says:

    Interesting how this story has practically nothing to do with the census or the Census Bureau–well, I suppose the whole thing wouldn’t have happened if the enumerator hadn’t knocked on that woman’s door–and yet we have headlines such as these showing up on the Drudge Report:

    “Police kill gun-wielding woman who refused to answer Census questions…”

    Kinda implies she was shot for not answering the questionnaire. Talk about spin.

  2. OC_Enumerator Says:

    http://www.appeal-democrat.com/news/family-95100-city-woman.html

    Sonny Le, regional spokesman for the U.S. Census Bureau, offered a different version of events. The female census taker knocked on the door at 7:45 p.m. about 25 minutes before sunset when workers are supposed to quit. The Roger-Vasselin home was the last one on her list before she went home, he said.

    Patterson answered the door and first talked with the census taker, Le said.

    “The visit was quite routine” until Roger-Vasselin approached with a gun, he said.

    The census taker immediately left and called her supervisor. It was 9:04 p.m. when police were called, after news of the incident traveled up the Census Bureau’s chain of command, Le said.

    Why did it take almost AN HOUR AND A HALF for something potentially life threatening to move up the chain of command?

  3. NRFU enumerator Says:

    Yuba City, CA newspaper stated the census worker knocked on the door between 9:00 and 9:30 pm.

  4. anonenum Says:

    I try to use common sense and personally would not open the door at nighttime to a stranger. “I come in peace”.

  5. another enumerator Says:

    This is a tragic story. Problem: the enumerator and her CL are lying about the time frame “25 minutes until dark”? I don’t think so. Neighbors said the census workers have been knocking “late” at night. Jeez, some people will do anything to cover their asses.

  6. LCO-AM Says:

    This is a sad story, true.

    What is sadder is this, census workers are your neighbors, someone just like you, trying to make a buck and possibly even wanting to be a part of something big.

    The census workers have families, might be someone grandma or grandpa, the vast majority are your every day Jane and Joe.

    Yet how many people treat them is an embarrassment.

    Got a beef with the census, take it up to someone who needs it – the street workers are being used like the bulletproof vests or shields for those that really should be hearing the complaints –

    The people coming to your door, someones kid, a Mom looking to make a couple extra bucks to buy clothes for her kids – or feed them something special. The Dad trying to make ends meet.

    The vast majority are really good people, doing a thankless job for minimal pay.

  7. anonymous Says:

    To the public: “I COME IN PEACE”.

  8. NarfooSnafoo Says:

    Yes, we do come in peace. What we ask for is of public record.

    That’s right– the information you give us is PUBLIC RECORD. People can go and look up an address at the county building, and they can see who owns this property. Likewise with tax, marriage, live births and the like. Also…some poor schmuck on Facebook/MySpace/whatever can reveal more of that info than they think.

    /would someone send the lady a bouquet of flowers, arranged in a form of a wingnut?!

  9. SoCalledWingnut Says:

    Sooooo….

    If it is all public record, that is being asked, then WHY don’t all these census workers sitting on their behinds getting paid for doing nothing go and LOOK IT UP instead of knocking on people’s doors late at night with so-called credentials that can easily be faked?

    And..is it ALSO public record (or anybody’s business including the govt) what a person’s race is and whether or not their home is paid off?

    I won’t get into the American Family Survey which is even WAY worse and much more intrusive, and I would also say ILLEGAL.

    The majority of the populace (a few wacked out exceptions aside) I believe can accept that an ENUMERATION, and only an enumeration, is what’s required constitutionally every 10 years. All this other stuff is for govt meddling and engineering. Pure and simple. If the census stuck to just the ENUMERATION, then I would venture there wouldn’t be all these nutcases (on both sides) coming out of the woodwork and that information could be collected MUCH more efficiently and cheaply, than the census circus travesty that is going on now.

  10. anonymous Says:

    TRUCE: Census enumerators can look up public info using the address. We can obtain landlord, property manager info; however, much of this public info is private. Investors, landlords, property management changes quickly. No one wants to be sued or fired for giving out personal information. ID theft rings, sex offenders, home invasion thieves, and other miscreants running lose in society have made our jobs a challenge.

    “I COME IN PEACE”.

  11. Anon Says:

    “Neighbors said they had also received NIGHTTIME visits from a female census worker”.

  12. Maiasaura Says:

    Even in California, 9 pm is way too late to be enumerating. And, yes, enumerators can look up info through public records or “proxys” (a knowldgable person who is willing to provide info on the resident — but that in no way replaces first hand information. Public records can be wrong or outdated. Proxys can be ignorant. Most of all, the “race” and “origin” questions are supposed to be answered by what the resident thinks they are, not what someone else thinks they are. If they want to say they are White or Swedish-Italian American or African-American and German that’s an individual choice. Light skin doesn’t always mean ‘white’. Brown skin doesn’t always mean “Black”.

  13. Anonymous Says:

    Maiasaura, how true you are. No one could have said this more eloquently. When a person looks at me, they always guess wrong. That’s one of the reasons I enjoy Census work. :)

  14. NarfooSnafoo Says:

    BTW, I think 9pm is way too late for visitation. Weekdays, I visit after 4pm and would end before 8pm. Weekends, it’s 2pm-8pm. The only way I visit off hours is if the person said: “Sorry, on my way to work. Come back at 10am tomorrow (or 9pm).”

    Anon at 4:13pm–
    That sounds quite dirty. :P

  15. Anonymous Says:

    Narfoo Snafoo: Paragraph 20 of the article above.

  16. TR Says:

    I wonder if the Census worker will be prosecuted for violating Title IX confidentiality by reporting the incident to the police.

  17. Census CL Says:

    A person threatened a census worker with a gun. And then threatened uniformed police officers. I don’t know what could justify that. None of the census workers carry guns or any weapons. They don’t offer violence, they knock on a door and ask questions. In fact the law is on the census workers side on all of this. What are you people suggesting by saying that after 9 is too late? No one would visit anywhere if people would have mailed in their questionnaire, the questionnaire didn’t even have to have anything filled in to be accepted through the mail. The census has been performed for over two hundred years in this country, there is nothing new to this. The anger and hysteria of some people is just not justified. I guess that maybe the media campaign should have been more about the rights of these part-time temporary employees to knock on doors and ask questions than about the importance of filling out the forms.

  18. mcmar Says:

    TR should check his information before is opens his/her big mouth. Title IX is best known for its impact on high school and collegiate athletics. Title 13 is the correct title number referring to confidentiality. And no, she did as she was suppose to do. The time of the visit…not so sure about.

  19. Buzz Lightyear Says:

    Manual – Topic on Safety states that you are to leave the dangerous situationa and call 911/Police.

    Census worker told police she knocked on door “25 minutes till 9 pm” as reported by another CA newspaper.

  20. Buzz Lightyear Says:

    TR is trying to say we are sworn to protect confidential information the respondant gives to us on the EQ form.

  21. TR Says:

    Way to pick on a typo.

  22. NarfooSnafoo Says:

    Anon– I know it’s in the article. I just find juvenile amusement in certain sentences when quoted by themselves.

  23. Yet Another Enumerator Says:

    It’s pretty easy to make a laundry list of what’s wrong with this picture:

    1. Enumerator probably out too late (well after dark)
    2. Knocking on a door for 25 minutes? BZZZZZZZZZT!!
    3. Woman coming to the door with a shotgun? WTF?!?!?!?
    4. Piss-poor reporting, especially in early reports (total confusion over what time this occurred, the sequence of events, etc.)

    I’d apportion the blame this:
    o Enumerator: 10%
    o Police: 15%
    o Woman w/shotgun: 75%

  24. Yet Another Enumerator Says:

    Nah, make that
    o Enumerator: 5%
    o Police: 10%
    o Woman w/shotgun: 85%

  25. anonymous Says:

    CL told us police dept. would give us the name, DOB, number of people living in a household …. Is this true?

    Census info is not an emergency.

  26. BTK census worker Says:

    Any idiot that threatens anyone with a gun while at their door and then does the same to armed uniformed officers deserves to be shot. The gene pool says thank you, officers.

  27. nerfoo Says:

    A resident at an apartment complex where I was enumerating told me that the police come do community events & neighborhood-watch type surveys at their complex from time to time. She suggested I check with them to get info on a now vacant, but occupied on census day unit in the building. I checked. They couldn’t. PII…

  28. Ace Says:

    Census worker was trespassing.

  29. Anonymous Says:

    Nerfoo and Ace:

    Both of you are correct.

  30. Margot707 Says:

    @Ace – Census workers are federal employees who have the right and obligation to knock on anyone’s door. In fact, people are required by law to respond to census questions, none of which are any different than those asked in the original census of 1790.

  31. Margot707 Says:

    @Yet Another Enumerator – Considering the inaccuracies on your laundry list regarding the unfortunate shooting incident, no wonder the Census is so messed up if you are a prime example of the quality of work being done by NRFU.

  32. Yet Another Enumerator Says:

    OK, Margot, what “inaccuracies”? What’s your take on it? Where do you lay blame in this case?

  33. Anonymouse Says:

    Good riddance to a crazy old teabaggin’ idiot. Thanks for removing yourself from the gene pool!

  34. Anonymous Says:

    Anonymouse: ???!!!