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Acampo shooting ruled self-defense

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Posted: Wednesday, September 26, 2007 10:00 pm

An Acampo homeowner acted in self-defense and will not face charges for fatally shooting a man who drove through his home and confronted him, prosecutors said Wednesday.

David Robinson, 60, was not arrested after the June 13 death of Ravi Batuk Vora, 39. San Joaquin County Sheriff's deputies instead investigated the case and then forwarded it to prosecutors, who ruled it justifiable homicide.

Robinson fired one gunshot, only after Vora had "initiated a prolonged and repeated assault" on Robinson and his wife, Deputy District Attorney Ron Freitas wrote in his final report on the case, which was signed Wednesday by District Attorney Jim Willett.

Robinson said he felt some relief to not worry about possible criminal charges, though he and his wife are still going through counseling and think about it daily. Vora apparently had mental health problems, and that weighs on Robinson, who feels that the experience has aged him 10 years.

"I took somebody's life who was sick. That's something that really bothers me," he said.

Even though Robinson had the safety on his 12-gauge shotgun until the very end - after he tried to fire once - it's not something he'll ever forget.

Prosecutors had no doubts about his role that night.

"We would like to commend Mr. Robinson for the restraint and compassion that he used under these astonishing circumstances, especially in light of Vora's bizarre and violent behavior," Freitas said Wednesday.

That behavior included making threats, crashing through the Robinsons' home, killing one of their dogs and charging Robinson. Only later would investigators learn that Vora had been arrested twice in August 2001 for threatening to kill people in San Francisco and Merced.

Sheriff's officials released only limited information after the shooting, but the prosecutor's report revealed more information.

Vora, of Burbank, and his wife, a 25-year-old Russian immigrant, had driven to a meditation retreat in Portland, Ore.

They were in Woodland when Vora's wife called police at 2:43 p.m. to say that he hadn't let her sleep for five days and was acting paranoid. They ultimately agreed that Vora would take his wife home and would consider getting mental help.

For the next five hours, Vora drove erratically around the Sacramento area, then suddenly decided to go see a relative in Salinas. He headed south on Highway 99, then exited Peltier Road in Acampo to check a map.

Vora then began choking his wife.

Then he told her to get out of the car and go into a nearby vineyard with him.

She instead ran toward the road, flagging down a passing vehicle as Vora gave chase. The driver, a 23-year-old Lodi man, stopped at 8:35 p.m. when he saw the frantic woman, who said her husband was trying to kill her and asked the driver to call 9-1-1.

They drove down Peltier Road and crossed the railroad tracks just before signal lights started flashing.

Vora was stuck behind the train, so the young man called 911 and agreed to take Vora's wife to meet deputies at a gas station in Woodbridge.

The train tracks cleared, and that's when Robinson unintentionally got involved: Vora followed him home to his house on Des Moines Road in Acampo.

Vora demanded to know where his wife was, and Robinson had no idea what the man was talking about. Vora left and returned several times, screaming and ranting while the Robinsons dialed 9-1-1.

The fourth time Vora returned, he used an object to bang on the home's front glass window. Robinson told a dispatcher that he had gotten his shotgun from a bedroom because he feared for his life, and he had his wife go to the back of the house with their animals.

Vora kept screaming, though at one point he lay on the ground and began crying. Then he got in his car and backed up.

Thirty seconds later, Vora's 1995 Toyota Camry crashed headlong through the front door, through the living room and out the back door to a covered patio.

Robinson jumped out of the way in time, but a rescued Golden Retriever was struck and killed.

"I think he was unconscious in the car," Robinson said. "Then I saw his hand come out the window, like a scene from a Stephen King movie, and start pushing away debris to get out of the car and I thought, 'My God, he's never going to stop.'"

Robinson told Vora to stay in the car, but he got out. Robinson ordered him to the ground at gunpoint while dispatchers talked to Robinson.

After a minute, Vora stood up and charged into the home, climbing over scattered debris even as Robinson told him to stop or he would shoot.

Vora shouted, "Shoot me! Shoot me!" while moving toward Robinson, who could not see if Vora had anything in his hands.

Even then, Robinson said, the safety was still engaged on his 12-gauge shotgun, so the first time he tried to fire, nothing happened. He fired one shot when, according to the coroner's report, Vora was at close range.

An autopsy showed that Vora had no drugs or alcohol in his system, and that the gunshot wound had killed him.

Later, investigators would learn that in addition to the arrests in 2001, Vora had twice visited mental hospitals in India and California.

Vora's wife, who cooperated with investigators, has since returned to Russia.

The Robinsons still can't quite believe that half an hour on a Wednesday night could have changed so much of their lives, though it stays with them constantly.

"I'll have those memories for the rest of my life," Robinson said. "I have them every day as a matter of fact; they're pretty severe daydreams."

Contact reporter Layla Bohm at layla@lodinews.com.

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  • posted at 5:04 am on Sat, Sep 29, 2007.


    that is the problem

  • posted at 4:03 am on Fri, Sep 28, 2007.


    Good reason to own a shotgun. Even a better reason to own a nice compact .40 cal handgun. You can carry your handgun around with you and be protected everywhere.

  • posted at 5:14 pm on Thu, Sep 27, 2007.


    Mr. Robinson is a hero. All of us should recognize Mr. Robinson as a defender of his home. More of us need to be prepared. The malcontents, and bangers will realize that their crimnal acts will be met with force. That fear will decrease our crime rate. Mr. Robinson should be awarded some type of of victim assistance, to help repair his house and get on with his life. If this were Texas, there would be no police interrogation or DA involvement. Instead there would be LOUD praise. God bless Mr Robinson.

  • posted at 3:57 pm on Thu, Sep 27, 2007.


    where you in the band in high school i pretty sure you were

  • posted at 2:53 pm on Thu, Sep 27, 2007.


    I agree 100% with the decision, unlike the Alamo case!

  • posted at 1:11 pm on Thu, Sep 27, 2007.


    Mr. Robinson, thank you for your bravery. I pray you have peace of mind in knowing that you did what had to be done, and what any one of us would have hoped to have been as brave as you to do. My children and I live nearby and it could've just as easily been my teenage kids Vora went after. Thank you, thank you, thank you. You are such a brave man.

  • posted at 9:38 am on Thu, Sep 27, 2007.


    Thank you Mr. Robinson, for keeping the rest of us safe. Go get some counseling for your trauma and go on with your life. You did the right thing.

  • posted at 9:27 am on Thu, Sep 27, 2007.


    To It's Amazing, you should've said, the stuff you caN'T get away with, like driving through a home and confronting the homeowner. Any sensible, logical, and sane person would've done the same thing that Robinson did.

  • posted at 9:23 am on Thu, Sep 27, 2007.


    To kiolo: You are absolutely right in everything you wrote. I'll just say, I endorse your comment.

  • posted at 8:45 am on Thu, Sep 27, 2007.


    I find it even more amazing what people will say when they don't know anything on the subject.
    We "North San Joaquiner's" like to call it diarrhea of the mouth. in your case.. the keyboard.

    Anyways.. Dave will be just fine he is a very strong and kind person, it's amazing this happened to him but he'll get through.

  • posted at 8:24 am on Thu, Sep 27, 2007.


    To "Aris" and "too it's amazing" I'm not trying to put words in anyone's mouth, but from reading "it's amazing's" statement, it sounds like this individual is saying that similar situations have occurred in other parts of our county, yet people acting in self-defense don't have the same results as Mr. Robinson.

  • posted at 7:12 am on Thu, Sep 27, 2007.


    thank goodness Robinson had the gun to stop the intruder. It would have been a MUCH sadder story to her of the murder of him and his wife. Vora made his choice when he drove his car through their house with intent to do harm. Vora IS NOT a victim, mentally ill or not.

  • posted at 6:34 am on Thu, Sep 27, 2007.


    To "It's amazing" - I'm not sure I understand what you mean. Would you please elaborate?

  • posted at 6:15 am on Thu, Sep 27, 2007.


    What a foolish statement,,what would really be amazing is to hear what your opinion is on other things.

  • posted at 6:10 am on Thu, Sep 27, 2007.


    The unfortunate part of this tragic story is, Robinson didn't shoot Vora sooner. Could have saved a lot of time, money and aggravation in repairing his home.

  • posted at 5:49 am on Thu, Sep 27, 2007.


    Want to share what you mean by that or are you just slinging mud? This man did everything he could without a police presence to stop this man. God forbid but I would have done the exact same thing he did. He did what he had to do.

  • posted at 4:39 am on Thu, Sep 27, 2007.


    the stuff you can get away with in the North part of San Joaquin County.

  • posted at 4:17 am on Thu, Sep 27, 2007.


    This story highlights the fact that you are responsible for your own safety, not the police or the govt. They can never be everywhere to protect everyone and the supreme court has ruled the police are not obligated to protect citizens. Bring on the progressive self-defense laws and allow more CCW's.

  • posted at 4:15 am on Thu, Sep 27, 2007.


    Thank god Robinson wasn't charged in this case. That would be added insult to the trauma the family is going through. I highly commend this citizen for having the fortitude to stand up for themselves and not play the veal calf.



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