A day after Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe released photographs of an active crime scene he was provided special access too, it appears he did not have permission to do so.
On Friday, the active shooter incident began at 1:14 pm where officers responded to a male shooting a firearm in the area of Dove Ct. near Killdear in the City of Antioch. The suspect fired several rounds for hours including striking down a drone and firing at officers. By 7:30 pm, the suspect was dead and fire under control.
By 8:00 pm, Antioch Police held a press conference on scene and released the following information by Officer Saffold:
When officers arrived on scene, it was confirmed the suspect was armed with a rifle shooting at cars and houses. The suspect also shot down a police drone while residents were ordered to shelter in place and evacuated from the area. SWAT responded and over the course of several hours the suspect continued to shoot his rifle inside the house and outside at officers and other residents. Around 7:07 pm, the suspect appeared to have set fire to the inside of his garage that soon engulfed the house where he exited the house and was contacted by SWAT officers. After making contact, the officers fired at the suspect who was struck. Medical aid was rendered and the suspect was deemed deceased at the scene.
With this now being an officer involved shooting, Contra Costa County protocol was invoked.
Saffold said he believe no one else was in the home or any other casualties or injuries. It is not known why the individual did this. The male was believed to be in the mid-30’s.
According to City Councilmemember Mike Barbanica, he said on Sunday that Interim Police Chief Tony Morefield told him that he did not authorize anybody to enter the crime scene, including the mayor, nor did he authorize the taking or release of photographs and was unaware any of that occurred from the mayor.
This comes as Barbanica says he has been bombarded my the public asking why the city of Antioch has failed to provide any additional information since Friday night which left a suspect dead and a house on fire after an 6-hour active shooter incident.
Barbanica explained the public wants to know why there has not been a formal press release issued and is a lack of transparency on the incident, but instead, are now asking why the mayor is the one with photographs and information on his social media account, but nothing released from the police department or public information officer.
“I spoke to the police chief and he did not authorize anybody to enter the crime scene, nor did he authorize the taking or release of photographs. He was unaware any of that occurred,” said Barbanica.
On Saturday at 3:16 pm, Thorpe issued the following on Facebook with photographs.
Yesterday, the Antioch Police Department was involved in a 7 hour standoff with an individual shooting a rifle. Throughout the incident, Interim Chief Morefield kept me and my colleagues abreast of all matters.
Today, Chief Morefield provided me a detailed briefing and I had the opportunity survey the scene. Please note, this area is still closed to the public, please stay away until further notice. This matter is an active investigation so my comments are limited.
While an unusual situation, please know that yesterday’s standoff was extremely dangerous for everyone especially police officers. We are very fortunate that no one else was seriously hurt or lost their life.
I want to express my appreciation to the women and men of the Antioch Police Department for their exceptional work last night as well as the other law enforcement agencies who provided mutual assistance like Bentwood, Oakley, Pittsburg, Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Dept, FBI and others.
Unfortunately, we did have an injury of a community service officer who was providing traffic support. He was helicoptered to the emergency room but is expected to fully recover from his injuries. Let’s wish him a speedy recovery.
Since Friday, the City of Antioch has declined to provide any additional information regarding the incident and have ignored requests for information or answer any questions.
Two Antioch Police officers responded to media requests only to state they have been directed that all responses are going through the city of Antioch Public Information Officer and they could not release any information–including an update to the CSO who was struck by a vehicle during the incident.
“I am disappointed in our communication to the public of this incident,” stated Barbanica. “I understand some information will be held back on a need to know basis and its an ongoing investigation, but there is also other information that the public has the right to know and begin to learn about what unfolded Friday night. At this point, its clear our communication plan needs some improvement. I will be bringing this up on Tuesday night.”
On Sunday, the following questions were posed to interim police chief Morefield, City Manager Ron Bernal and PIO Rolando Bonilla:
- Did the mayor request access to crime scene?
- Who allowed the mayor into an active crime and was this approved?
- Was his recap correct?
- Was the mayor given permission to take photographs?
- Was he approved to release photographs?
After two emails, Bonilla responded, but did not answer the questions. Bernal or Morefield have not responded.
“As this is an on-going investigation, there is nothing more to report at this time. As soon as more information becomes available, it will be released,” said Bonilla.
Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe was also sent an email asking:
- Did you request access to the crime scene you visited?
- Who allowed you into the crime scene and was this approved by Acting Chief Tony Morefield or District Attorney’s Office?
- Were you given permission to take photographs?
- Was permission granted to release photographs from an active crime scene?
- Were you granted permission to release information from an active investigation?
It is unclear if the photographs Lamar Thorpe snapped and shared on social media were the only ones he took or who else he may have shared non-published photographs or information with.
Antioch City Councilmember Lori Ogorchock said although she has been briefed on the incident, the information she was provided is confidential and not to be shared publicly. She declined to comment further on the tragic incident and deferred back to the city public information officer who she says is the only person who should be issuing statements on behalf of the city.
“My heart goes out to all those involved, including male who died and his family, the neighborhood. My prayers go out to the CSO officer who was injured. My thanks go out to the Antioch Police Department and all responding departments,” said Ogorchock.
Former Antioch Mayor Wade Harper said Sunday he never requested access to an active crime scene as mayor and instead said as a former law enforcement officer, you know to stay away. He added that politicians should never go to a crime scene and interfere. He did say he visited scenes after the fact but never during an active investigation and did so when it was over.
Former Antioch Mayor Sean Wright also stated Sunday he never asked for access to a crime scene and tried to stay out of the police departments way as much as possible to let them do their job.
At the time of publication, neither PIO Rolando Bonilla or Mayor Lamar Thorpe responded to any questions. Nor has an email into the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office received a response.
The active shooter incident prompted assisting agencies Brentwood Police Department, Pittsburg Police Department and Contra Costa County Sheriffs Office to respond.
Per the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office:
“The perimeter to the crime scene was maintained by the Antioch Police Department. The Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office was not in communication with Antioch Mayor Thorpe” — Simon OConnell
Note – Barbanica posted a photograph of his own from the incident, however, the photograph went through channels to get released to the public and the photo published was not inside the crime scene.