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Acampo murder suspect identified

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Howard D. Smith

Posted: Sunday, March 27, 2011 2:27 pm | Updated: 6:07 am, Tue Mar 29, 2011.

The San Joaquin County Sheriff's Office has named Howard D. Smith, 40, as the suspect they believe shot and killed two people and wounded a third individual on Friday afternoon.

Smith was arrested shortly after the vehicle he was driving collided with another vehicle on southbound Highway 99 at Harney Lane, according to sheriff's Deputy Dave Konecny.

Smith, whose residence was not disclosed, was booked into San Joaquin County Jail in French Camp on suspicion of two counts of homicide, one count of attempted murder and burglary.

Konecny said on Sunday that the victims' names would not be released until today.

Smith allegedly shot and killed two people and injured a third on Homestead Lane, northwest of Jahant and Elliott roads in northeastern Acampo at about 4:30 p.m. Friday, Konecny said. The incident took place about five miles east of Highway 99.

Smith allegedly committed the shootings at two homes on the same property. Liberty Fire Chief Stan Seifert said on Sunday that one fatal shooting took place inside the house, and another outside. The victim who survived suffered a foot injury, Seifert said.

The shootings took place on the property of a gray modular home just north of the Homestead and Jahant intersection. At least two other residences were located behind the gray home near the roadway.

Homestead Lane is a narrow, quiet, bumpy lane about a half-mile long, filled with chuckholes. It has about seven houses along the west side of the road and vineyards to the east.

"My wife was home, and she heard the shots," neighbor Bruce Johnson said. "She swears she heard only one shot."

Seifert, who confirmed in which house the incident took place, said that at least one of the people who was killed was shot inside the front residence, and another was shot outside.

A man who lives next door to where the shootings took place was visibly shaken and said he was too upset to talk about the incident — too upset, in fact, to talk about it with his own family.

Johnson, who lives further down Homestead Lane, said he didn't know the residents very well.

"Everybody knows everybody (on the road), but nobody knew them," Johnson said.

Johnson said he arrived home about 15 minutes after the shootings took place.

Between Johnson's residence and the house where the shootings took place, some white egrets were swimming in some water that may have been caused by the recent storms.

"When they heard (the gunshots), the egrets flew away like gangbusters," Johnson said.

Johnson, who moved to Homestead Lane in 2002, said the property where the shootings took place was a 10-acre parcel, but in 2004 or 2005, the property owner split the parcel into two five-acre lots and sold the southern half, Johnson said.

"The property, since they bought it, kept going down and down and down," Johnson said. "The weeds just kept growing."

Johnson said he doesn't feel as safe as he used to in the nice remote Acampo neighborhood. He said he went to Stockton during the weekend to inquire about purchasing a firearm, but as of Sunday, he hadn't bought one.

Contact reporter Ross Farrow at rossf@lodinews.com.

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  • Honey Mars posted at 12:20 pm on Sun, Apr 3, 2011.

    Honey Mars Posts: 20

    He has a word tatoo over his eye but I can't zoom in to read it. It also appears he has a prison "tear" tat under his right eye, which usually means they killed someone in the past.

  • posted at 4:03 pm on Mon, Mar 28, 2011.


    Venus, I would like to extend the same invitation to you that I did to Elaine: if you have any information you are willing to give us, please call the newsroom and ask to speak to me. We would appreciate it. Thanks.

  • posted at 12:02 pm on Mon, Mar 28, 2011.



    We're trying to gather more information for a follow-up story, could you please give us a call at the News-Sentinel? Rest assured we do not want to identify victims until names are publicly released, but any information you can provide us would be very helpful.

    The News-Sentinel number is (209) 369-7035


  • elaine brown posted at 6:57 am on Mon, Mar 28, 2011.

    elaine brown Posts: 1

    It's a miracle that the intended victim was at my ex-husband's home. She usually has my grandkids at her home. This truly was an act of GOD. Wow. This was close. I hope this can be a profound lesson to all who read this post. It's not what YOU are doing, it's often who YOU become involved with. I'm sad for those that have been killed. I know their names but until they are publicly identified, it's not my place to name them. Blessing to all.



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