When North Highlands resident Dean Fisher, 58, heard a loud noise outside his bedroom window at around midnight on Tuesday, he thought a tire had popped nearby, he said.
Fisher didn’t hear a car engine start or speed off. He could not see anyone running away from the area, though a gray van blocked his view to part of the street in front of his home, located in the 4100 block of Painter Way in North Highlands.
“All of a sudden I saw (my neighbor’s) 5-year-old daughter running across the street,” Fisher said Wednesday morning. “She was yelling that her daddy was dead.”
The Sacramento County Coroner’s Office identified Fisher’s neighbor, Terry McCauley, 34, as the victim of a fatal shooting that was reported after midnight early Tuesday. Fisher lives across the street from McCauley, and the two have known each other for several years, he said.
Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department deputies found McCauley with a single shotgun wound to his head, with signs of forced entry at one of the home’s doors, said Sgt. Tony Turnbull, a department spokesman.
No one answered the door at McCauley’s home Wednesday afternoon, though a statement from his family described him as a loving father of three daughters and a young son.
“He was always willing to step out of his comfort zone to help others,” the statement said of McCauley. “It did not matter if he could not swim; he would still jump in a murky pond to please his children, nephews and nieces.”
McCauley was declared dead at the scene, with no gunman in custody as of Wednesday afternoon, according to the Sheriff’s Department. McCauley’s 5-year-old daughter was the only other person home at the time of the shooting, Turnbull said.
The girl pleaded with Fisher to stay with her after he found her on the street, afraid that he would also be shot. The young girl had played with his grandkids and knew who he was, he said.
“She grabbed a hold of me and pleaded to not go,” he said.
McCauley’s body was lying on the floor near the front door when Fisher went to the house. He checked for a pulse, and after finding a beat, he went to his home and called police, Fisher said.
The North Highlands neighbor was one of several people on the street who described McCauley as a friendly person.
“We went out and he would always wave hello,” said Felicita Machuca, who lives in a home next to McCauley. Machuca said she did not hear the gunfire early Tuesday morning.
A collection of lighted candles, vases filled with flowers and a rosary sat near the front door of McCauley’s home Wednesday, where neighbors and friends crafted a memorial in his honor. A large tree shaded most of the home’s neatly trimmed front yard.
Detectives said they did not know whether the shooting was carried out by one person or several people, Turnbull said Wednesday afternoon. He said they were trying to determine the motive for the shooting, with family members asking the public to report any relevant information to police.
Sacramento Superior Court shows no previous criminal cases under McCauley’s name.
Detectives ask anyone with information to call the Sheriff’s Department at 916-874-5115 or Sacramento Valley Crime Stoppers at 916-443-4357. Tip information may also be left anonymously on the Sheriff’s Department’s website or by calling 916-874-8477.