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2022 October 15 – Nathan Smart

Published: July 25, 2023

On Saturday, October 15, 2022, at approximately 18:45, Sonoma County Sheriff’s Deputies were dispatched to a residence in Boyes Hot Springs regarding a report of a family disturbance. The reporting party, Jane Doe #1, reported her son, Nathan Smart had been drinking, was under the influence of drugs and had threatened to kill her. Ms. Doe #1 also stated she believed Nathan Smart had been in possession of ghost guns in his bedroom and had made guns in his bedroom.

Deputies from the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department arrived at the residence at 18:53 and located Nathan Smart in the driveway. When law enforcement arrived, Nathan retreated to his residence. Deputies surrounded the home and attempted to convince Smart to exit the residence and surrender, via announcements through a loudspeaker. After a search of the residence Smart was not located and it was believed he fled the area.

After law enforcement cleared the scene and confirmed with Jane Doe #1 that she felt safe, deputies left the scene at 21:44, issued a county-wide “Be on the Lookout” (BOLO) and indicated that probable cause had been established to arrest Nathan Smart for a violation of Penal Code section 422 Criminal Threats, and Penal Code section 368 Elder Abuse.

At approximately 22:06 that same night, Sonoma County Sheriff’s Deputies were dispatched to CVS Pharmacy, located at 201 West Napa Street in Sonoma, for multiple reports of glass breaking in the parking lot. One of the reporting parties stated “Nathan Smart” used a large wooden stick to break windows on parked vehicles and storefronts.

When deputies arrived at the scene, they were unable to locate Nathan Smart. At 22:13 deputies were dispatched to 465 West 1st Street, for a report from the bouncer of a nearby bar, who reported a subject had thrown a chair at a limousine. Additionally, the bouncer reported the subject had a black pistol and he fled the area.

When deputies arrived, Nathan Smart was located in the area of 135 West Napa Street. When contacted by deputies, Nathan Smart fired at least one shot from a handgun in their direction. Deputy Clayton returned fire and Nathan ran from the area. Within a few seconds, Nathan emerged from an alley near where Deputy Shilling had taken cover. Nathan pointed his gun at Deputy Shilling. Deputy Shilling fired his service weapon, striking Nathan Smart.

At 22:17 emergency medical services were requested by the deputies on scene. After being briefly treated at the scene, Smart was transported to Queen of the Valley Hospital in Napa, with multiple gunshot wounds. Smart was later transported to UC Davis Medical Center for further medical treatment.

When law enforcement investigated the scene, officers located what appeared to be a homemade firearm, constructed out of threaded piping material. The homemade firearm had a barrel 6-8 inches in length and a handle. The firearm had a functioning spring trigger and what appeared to be a charging handle. The homemade firearm was disassembled by Sergeant Brandon Matthies. Upon inspection, Sergeant Mathies observed that the rear portion of the firearm could be unscrewed and removed and appeared to be spring loaded. Inside the barrel of the homemade firearm was a spent shell casing. The shell cases appeared to have been drilled out in the rear and altered in a way that suggested the ammunition was homemade.

As part of the investigation, on October 16, 2022, a search warrant was served at Mr. Smart’s residence. During the initial protective sweep, law enforcement had to evacuate the residence due to a possible bomb located on a bed. The bomb was later determined to be inactive and was in fact a silencer that attached to a firearm to muzzle the sound of a gunshot. Two more similar devices were located at the scene.

During the search of Smart’s bedroom, law enforcement located numerous items believed to be used to assemble firearms. Threaded pipe, like the pipe in the homemade firearm fired by Nathan Smart, was located on a nightstand and dresser. Additionally, several plastic bags with pipes and fittings were located under a bed. Within one of these bags, another fully constructed homemade firearm was located, which was very similar to the firearm Nathan Smart fired at law enforcement.

Additionally, within the bedroom on a dresser, law enforcement located a tray that had material which appeared to have been melted down. The pieces were formed and molded into shapes consistent with projectiles that may have been made to be fired from the firearm used by Smart. Within this same dresser, detectives located a bottle of store-bought gun powder which had been opened, and half its contents were gone. Near the bed, a steel plate, approximately six inches by six inches, was located and had numerous holes and dents, consistent with being shot with projectiles.

In this case members of the Santa Rosa Police Department assumed responsibility for the investigation of the incident. Members of the Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office participated in the investigation in a supporting role, in accordance with the protocol.

Under the protocol, the role of the Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office is to review the investigation to determine if there exists any criminal liability on the part of involved parties, including the law enforcement employee(s); to provide assistance to the investigating agency regarding legal issues; to supplement the investigation when necessary; and, when appropriate, prosecute those persons believed to have violated the law.

Once the investigation is complete the District Attorney is required by the protocol to complete a thorough review of the investigation and prepare a report summarizing the investigation and documenting her conclusions. A copy of this report is to be submitted to the foreperson of the Sonoma County Grand Jury.

This report includes a summary of facts surrounding the shooting of Nathan James Smart, a statement of the applicable law, legal analysis and conclusions. This report does not and cannot include all the information contained in the hundreds of pages of reports, video and audio tapes, transcripts, photographs and diagrams reviewed in its preparation. However, every effort has
been made to include in this report a summary of all the relevant, material evidence gathered by the Santa Rosa Police Department over the course of its extensive investigation of this critical incident.