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.