A vacation rental just outside the city limits of Sonoma played host to a Friday night party with dozens of guests from outside the county, and the party ended with at least 30 shots fired.
Sonoma County Sheriff's deputies say that they had already responded to multiple calls from neighbors that night in the quiet community of El Verano — just outside of the town of Sonoma to the west — about a loud party with people spilling out into the street. The party was happening on the 19000 block of Riverside Drive, near Solano Avenue. As the department reports on Facebook, deputies then returned at 3:45 a.m. Saturday following reports of gunfire, and arrived to find spent shell casings on the ground and some damage to cars in the vicinity.
"Deputies made announcements on the PA system of the patrol car ordering people out, resulting in several people coming out of the house," they write. "Deputies then went into the house and did not find anyone else... Deputies spoke with one man attending the party who was injured when he fell while running away from the gunfire. He was taken to a nearby hospital with a minor injury."
No neighbors reported any injuries, but as KPIX reports, the incident continues to be investigated, deputies found a total of 30 shell casings which originated from two guns. Some homes also sustained damage from the gunfire.
The home turns out to have been a vacation rental, and per the Sheriff's Office, "everyone involved lives outside of Sonoma County."
The Press Democrat first reported on the gunfire on Saturday, and spoke to the property owner, Clem Moore. Moore, who splits his time between Sonoma and Austin, Texas and uses VRBO to rent the home, called the incident a "property owner's nightmare."
A neighbor in the apartment complex across the street, Zane Boehlke, tells the paper that he thought he heard around 20 rounds fired, and that the gunfire went through a neighbor's window and sprayed the entire side of his building.
“It woke me right up out of a dead sleep, and the first thing I said was get down,” Boehlke tells the Press Democrat. He was able to get his wife and two children, who were all sleeping in the same bed, down on the ground and they crawled to the other side of the apartment.
He added that he "had a feeling something like this might happen because people get crazy over there," noting this wasn't the first time that Moore's vacation rental had been used for a party.
The incident recalls the deadly Halloween party shooting in Orinda last fall, which similarly took place at an Airbnb with an absentee owner. After four people were killed in that shooting, Orinda moved to curtail vacation rentals in the town, and Airbnb instituted a crackdown on hosts and guests at properties where parties occurred.
There has been a moratorium on new vacation rental permits in Sonoma County since the October 2017 wildfires, in an effort to preserve housing stock for residents who needed long-term rentals. County supervisors were poised this week to extend a temporary cap on total short-term rentals as well, though this incident is likely to spark further discussion about party houses.
Anyone with information about the case is asked to contact the Investigations Division at the Sonoma Sheriff's Office at 707-565-2185.
Photo: Jay Rembert