Police fired tear gas into a home Wednesday night in Galt where a man had barricaded himself after officers said he shot and killed an animal control officer.
The suspect is believed to be 65-year-old Joseph Francis Corey, who was evicted from the home in the 600 block of 1st Street on Tuesday, said Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Sgt. Jason Ramos.
“The primary goal is to get him to come out and surrender,” Ramos said, adding later: “We are trying to establish his state of mind.”
As of 11:30 p.m., the stakeout continued after more than 11 hours and Corey was still barricaded in the home. After two brief conversations, Corey stopped answering officers.
Police were announcing over a loudspeaker, “Joseph, turn your phone back on. We need to talk to you.”
Officers started shooting tear gas canisters into the home around 10:30 p.m., but there was no response from Corey.
The shooting happened a little after noon Wednesday, and multiple agencies, including three different SWAT teams, arrived to secure the area and evacuate more than a half dozen residents.
On Tuesday, a sheriff’s deputy and bank employee evicted Corey from his home, and the locks had been changed.
“The homeowner was locked out of the property,” Ramos said. “He remained behind outdoors to gather a few belongings, but ultimately, the eviction was done, so no one should have been occupying the residence.”
At the time of the eviction, Ramos said he had nowhere to take his multiple cats and dogs.
Then on Wednesday, an unarmed Sacramento County animal control officer and another bank representative went to the home around noon to pick up the dogs and cats.
When the pair knocked, Corey reportedly fired a shotgun through the door, hitting the officer’s torso, Ramos said. The officer’s identity has not been released. It is unclear how Corey got back into the home.
The bank employee flagged down a police volunteer who happened to be in the area. Shortly after, Galt police officers arrived and pulled the man to safety, but paramedics were unable to revive him, Ramos said.
The bank employee was grazed in the head, possibly with wood from the door, but only had superficial injuries.
Corey owned the home before it was foreclosed on and taken over by Citibank, according to the Sacramento County Assessor’s Office. A friend of Corey’s said he owned the home and lived by himself. The phone number listed for Corey was disconnected.
For hours, Sheriff’s deputies could not confirm whether Corey was the shooter, because they had no contact with him until around 6 p.m.
One of Corey’s friends was shocked when he heard the news.
“He’s a really nice guy,” friend Rick Jones said of Corey. “Out of character, wouldn’t expect it from the guy. I know things are bad, but I wouldn’t expect this from him. He might have felt like he had nothing to lose at this point.”
Another neighbor called Corey “a hermit” who kept to himself all the time, but Jones did say Corey attended his daughter’s birthday party recently. He said Corey was a retired computer programmer who was losing his home to foreclosure.
After the shooting, officers from multiple agencies in the area arrived on scene and walked around the two-story home with their guns drawn.
The home is located near F Street and is across the street from apartments. Local residents stood in front of their homes and gathered around the yellow police tape throughout the entire day watching the assemblage of law enforcement.
Sheriff’s officers and the Sacramento Police Department responded to assist Galt police with the incident, and a joint Elk Grove-Galt SWAT team was searching the area at 1:30 p.m.
On New Hope Road, officers set up a command center where multiple police cars and unmarked cars parked. An armored vehicle with a sharpshooter behind a high-powered rifle drove toward the home in the late afternoon.
“There’s quite honestly a small army of officers from a number of different agencies here,” Ramos said. “We’ve got dozens of law enforcement officers out here. It’s a collaborative effort right now.”
At one point, police moved the media to a different location when officers believed the suspect might have semi-automatic weapons.
Before beginning negotiations with Corey, officers evacuated residents from at least six nearby houses and knocked on the doors of a dozen others. Ramos said that because there were no hostages, officers could focus on first evacuating anyone who could be in harm’s way.
“Time is on our side. Safety comes first. We don’t have any immediate threats. ... We are coming up with a plan of action as to what steps to what we’re going to take to get this guy out without injuries to anyone else,” Ramos said.
At around 4 p.m. New Hope Church, which was located in the perimeter, loaded children from a daycare onto city of Galt buses to move them to a new location and walked several students to anxious parents waiting behind police tape.
One family that had been evacuated asked around 5 p.m. whether they could return to get food and get diapers for their toddler son, but were turned away. A group of children, who still had backpacks on from school, eagerly asked reporters what had happened.
The animal control officer works for the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department, as Galt contracts with the Sheriff’s Department for animal control services.
It is typical for animal control officers to check on animals after evictions.
“By law, animals are considered property, so it’s incumbent on animal control to safeguard the animals,” Ramos said, adding that that’s why an animal control officer returned Wednesday.
Reports that Galt High School was on lockdown could not be confirmed with Principal Maria Orr. Students were released at regular time, but reportedly told to stay away from the area.
Galt High parent Dana Thompson received an automated at around 12:30 p.m. saying the school was on lockdown. Thompson then received another call at 1:50 p.m. saying the kids would be released at regular time.
Check www.lodinews.com on today for updates on this story.
The Associated Press and CBS 13 contributed to this report.