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Shasta County district attorney clears four separate shooting cases, says they were in self-defense

Shasta County District Attorney Stephanie Bridget announced the findings of four separate self-defense shooting investigations Thursday.

Posted: Dec 14, 2017 7:23 PM

Shasta County District Attorney Stephanie Bridget announced the findings of four separate self-defense shooting investigations Thursday.

All four incidents happened relatively close to each other in time ‎during the first half of this year.

The first of those incidents happened in Redding on February 15.

Police say 27-year old Michael Lake shot and killed 47-year old John Souza who was riding a bike at the intersection of Hartnell Avenue and Churn Creek Road.

Lake claimed self defense after Souza began yelling and punching his window and then reached in his waistband.

Bridget and her office reviewed the evidence in this and three other self-defense cases to determine whether to press charges against the shooters.

“After thoroughly investigating the cases, reviewing what was presented by the Redding Police Department all the available evidence that was given to us, I have determined that no charges will be filed in any of the four cases,” Bridget said in a press conference Thursday.

Another incident involved a grandfather, 73-year-old James Valdez, who shot his granddaughters boyfriend 30-year-old Joshua Horak of Tacoma at a family function on February 19.

Valdez said Horak was acting strange the entire time he was there and threatened to kill him at one point.

Vadez told police he shot Horak twice in the crotch because he feared for his life and the life of his granddaughter and great granddaughter.

That shooting was not fatal.

On March 19 off duty CHP officer 34-year-old Federico Lazo shot and killed 23-year old Christopher Rosa who was armed with a pick axe and trying to break into his home.

On May 5, 44-year-old Danial Bissell was shot by 40-year-old Walter Gordon at an apartment complex off Bechelli Lane in Redding.

Gordon noticed Bissell acting strangely and noticed he had a knife, so he called police.

He tried to detain him using his shotgun until they arrived.

But Bissell tried to wrestle the gun away at one point and Gordon fired.

Bridgett said she and those who helped review the cases used a very fact-specific and intensive analysis to come to their decisions.

“It's tragic because we have three people who lost their life,” she said. “So it's something we take very seriously and want to make sure that not only did we make the right decision for the person who unfortunately had to use a firearm but also for the surviving family members of the person who was shot.”

Bridgett says it takes time for police to gather all of the evidence in these cases.

And it takes her office awhile to review all the info and determine if they have a case or not.

Bridgett says because all four incidents happened around the same time, they finished reviewing them around the same time.

And that's why they decided to release their findings all at once.

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