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Davis gunman’s path to handguns that killed Officer Natalie Corona may never be known

Authorities have traced the origin of the handguns used to kill rookie Davis police Officer Natalie Corona in January, but say they may never know exactly how – or when – gunman Kevin Douglas Limbaugh obtained them.

One of the handguns, a .45-caliber semiautomatic, originally was purchased by someone at a gun shop in New Mexico, Davis police Lt. Paul Doroshov said. The other, a 9 mm Glock, was reported lost or stolen from a gun shop in Phoenix in 1996.

But the findings shed little light on why Limbaugh shot the 22-year-old officer to death as she investigated a minor traffic accident near downtown, then killed himself as police surrounded the rental home where he was living.

Limbaugh used the two handguns in the Jan. 10 shooting spree that began just before 7 p.m. near Fifth and D streets and included him firing at passersby and at a fire engine driving through the area.

The weapons were never registered to Limbaugh, and police have no way of knowing whether he purchased or stole them or when he came into possession of either.

“We don’t know,” Doroshov said. “I can factually say he had no weapons registered to him.”

Agents from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives spent weeks tracing the weapons, but the only thing police can say for certain now is that Limbaugh obtained them sometime before the Jan. 10 shooting and that it was illegal for him to have any firearm because of his legal troubles in California.

The weapons were among at least three that Limbaugh has possessed. He also owned a .223-caliber AR-15 Bushmaster rifle that he turned over to police Nov. 9 after an altercation at his workplace, Cache Creek Casino Resort, where he sucker-punched a co-worker.

That incident led to a Sept. 24 protective order being issued in Yolo Superior Court that forbid him from possessing firearms or ammunition.

Limbaugh’s employment there ended “immediately thereafter,” the casino said, and Limbaugh eventually pleaded to a misdemeanor count and was sentenced to three years of probation.

Authorities searched the state’s weapons database after the protective order was issued and determined there were no guns registered to him at that time.

Whether Limbaugh had the handguns at that time or obtained them later police do not know, Doroshov said, and there is no indication that he took them from an acquaintance.

Police also have had little luck in determining a motive for why Limbaugh ambushed Corona, other than the bizarre note he left behind on his pillow.

“The Davis Police department has been hitting me with ultra sonic waves meant to keep dogs from barking,” read the statement, which was signed “Citizen Kevin Limbaugh.”

“I notified the press, internal affairs, and even the FBI about it. I am highly sensitive to its affect (sic) on my inner ear. I did my best to appease them, but they have continued for years and I can’t live this way anymore.”

Davis police have said they had no record of such contacts with Limbaugh.

The autopsy report compiled after Limbaugh shot himself in the head also provided few clues as to what led him to kill Corona, then himself.

Toxicology reports show Limbaugh had THC in his blood, and marijuana was found in his room.

Limbaugh’s blood-alcohol content was .16 percent, twice the legal driving limit. The autopsy report said a half-empty bottle of Korbel champagne was found in the bedroom where he shot himself to death, and – in a bizarre twist – he had calmly split a beer with his unwitting roommate after returning from his rampage.

The report says Limbaugh and his roommate were in the E Street rental house together when they heard a car crash outside.

“Immediately thereafter, the decedent told his roommate that he had to go and promptly left the residence,” the coroner’s report says. “The decedent returned later and asked his roommate to have a beer with him.

“The two went outside the residence and drank a beer together. The roommate reported that when police officers started fanning out from the site of the crash the decedent ran inside the residence.”

At 11:03 p.m., police heard a single gunshot, then sent in a remote-controlled robot and camera and later a K-9 and determined Limbaugh was dead.

“The remains were lying in a prone position on carpeted flooring,” the report says. “Clothing consisted of black cargo pants, a black belt, black athletic shoes, a grey and red striped long sleeve shirt, a dark grey long sleeve shirt, a blue short sleeve shirt, black socks, black body armor, and a black holster.

“The holster was empty.”

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Sam Stanton has worked for The Bee since 1991 and has covered a variety of issues, including politics, criminal justice and breaking news.