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Man shot after he reports reckless driving of unmarked SPPD car

August 08, 2001
Santa Paula News

A continuing disagreement between two Santa Paula men led to the shooting of one that sparked a high-speed pursuit Thursday night, according to a police department official. The shooting came two days after the suspect had been released from custody after being arrested for challenging the victim to fight; the victim met with the Chief of Police to discuss his concern for his safety just hours before he was shot

By Peggy KellySanta Paula TimesA continuing disagreement between two Santa Paula men led to the shooting of one that sparked a high-speed pursuit Thursday night, according to a police department official. The shooting came two days after the suspect had been released from custody after being arrested for challenging the victim to fight; the victim met with the Chief of Police to discuss his concern for his safety just hours before he was shot.The incident was reported as a subject disturbing at approximately 10:40 p.m. at 223 E. Santa Barbara St., according to SPPD Sgt. Ismael Cordero.As officers were en route to the location, police were again called and the emergency dispatcher told that the caller had just been shot.Upon arrival officers found that 29-year-old Fernando Garcia had been shot twice by a small caliber handgun, being wounded in the upper torso and in the right arm.Garcia was transported to Santa Paula Memorial Hospital where he underwent emergency surgery for his injuries; he was listed in stable condition on.The suspect was identified as Richard Johnsen Neill, 21, also of Santa Paula, who had been arrested earlier last week for disturbing the peace by challenging Garcia to a fight. The confrontation stemmed from Garcia reporting that Neill had driven an unmarked police car recklessly by his home. Neill was an employee of McCoys Automotive which was working on the police car.
Garcia met with Santa Paula Police Chief Bob Gonzales on Thursday to discuss his concerns about his safety.After the shooting, a witness told police that Neill had fled the scene on a motorcycle At a high rate of speed, noted Sgt. Cordero.The motorcycle hadnt gotten far when it was spotted by SPPD Sr. Officer Henry Aguilar who while responding to the scene of the shooting observed Neill driving westbound on Santa Paula Street. Sr. Ofc. Aguilar pursued Neill who continued westbound out of the city reaching speeds of estimated at 80 mph to 100 mph.When Neill got to Cummings Road he turned off the headlights of the motorcycle and was able to elude capture.Information was obtained by officers on several locations where Neill might be en route to, said Sgt. Cordero. At approximately 12:45 a.m., SPPD Officer John Coffelt had a residence in the 300 block of Laurie Lane under surveillance when he spotted the suspect. Ofc. Coffelt and his K-9 partner Jack, as well as other SPPD officers, detained Neill and took him into custody without incident, said Sgt. Cordero.Neill was charged with attempted murder and booked into Ventura County Jail with bail set at $500,000.