A day after a quiet Auburn cul-de-sac erupted in gunfire and flames in a chaotic standoff that lasted more than five hours Sunday, law enforcement officials named the man who they said started it all: William Everett Corson.
Corson, the owner of a two-story home at 11824 Kemper Oaks Court, was shot and killed by deputies Sunday after he barricaded himself inside his home, set it on fire and shot “hundreds of rounds” of bullets at law enforcement officers and into neighboring houses, deputies said.
Neighbors described Corson as quiet, a man who kept largely to himself.
Corson, 53, was killed by an officer around 4 p.m., effectively ending the standoff, which began about 10:30 a.m.
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Placer County Sheriff’s spokesman Lt. John Poretti said Corson had been drinking and arguing with relatives late Sunday morning when he attacked his girlfriend with mace meant to repel bears.
Gunfire followed, though the target is unclear.
Poretti said investigators believe Corson was using several different weapons: a pistol, shotgun and automatic firearm, based on the sounds they made while Corson fired them.
“There was shooting all over the place,” neighbor Veronica Cornu told The Bee on Sunday.
On Monday, several residents of Kemper Oaks Court still could not return to their homes, which, punctured by dozens of bullets, remained a crime scene, Poretti said. Those who hadn’t been evacuated were escorted to and from their front doors by law enforcement throughout the day. A white SUV parked next to the charred skeleton of Corson’s house had been blackened by flames.
Members of half a dozen agencies, including the Sheriff’s Office, California Highway Patrol, Placer County Fire Department and state Department of Justice, milled about the neighborhood, collecting evidence and attempting to piece together what happened Sunday.
The Placer County Sheriff’s Office said early investigations indicate Carson set fire to his home using a “Molotov cocktail style device.” The fire, which began about 2:30 p.m. on Sunday and eventually consumed the home, started in the garage.
Attempts by the special-enforcement team and sheriff’s hostage negotiators to communicate with the man were unsuccessful. The man continued shooting as fire engulfed the home. A special-enforcement team member returned fire, killing the man.
Firefighters were unable to battle the blaze until after the shootout ended. About 5 p.m. Sunday, officers began allowing residents to return to their homes to inspect them for gunfire damage.
It was not immediately clear how many homes had bullet holes as a result of Sunday’s shootout.
The Placer County coroner was conducting an autopsy to determine the exact nature of Corson’s death, which, Poretti said, would likely be made public by the end of the week.