Police kill gun-wielding woman who refused to answer Census questions…
Y.C. woman killed by police pointed gun at officers
By Rob Young
May 21, 2010
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, Yuba City police said Friday.
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.
An autopsy Friday showed she died of “multiple gunshot wounds,” said Sutter County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Brenda Baker.
A neighbor reported hearing five or six shots.
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, Christian Biscotti, said outside the house Friday morning.
“I think she was just startled” by late visits to her home, he said.
Before Biscotti could say more, 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, according to a police incident log. In a press release, police did not say exactly when the shooting happened.
Police scanner traffic indicated the shooting happened about 10:20 p.m.
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 Craig 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,” the police report 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 tests will determine if alcohol or drugs were a factor in the incident.
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.
Le called the incident especially tragic because the census taker, like Roger-Vasselin, is a Yuba City resident.
Patterson was arrested on suspicion of assault with a weapon on a police officer and was being held without bail Friday in Sutter County Superior Court.
The officers have been placed on routine administrative leave while the Sutter County District Attorney’s Office determines if the shooting was justified. District Attorney Carl Adams said he did not yet have all the facts.
A neighbor, Bob Dhaliwal, said he was in bed when he 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 Roger-Vasselin’s brother, Judge Thomas E. Mathews, died In 2005, she 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 Corp.