Crime - Sacto 911

Was the motel where a deputy was fatally shot the site of a 1980s shooting?

Q: Was the parking lot of the motel where a sheriff’s deputy was killed and two CHP officers wounded this week the site of a shootout involving deputies in the 1980s?

Anonymous, Sacramento

A: An ex-felon charged with spousal abuse who used a ruse to gain his release from jail was shot in June 1988 in a confrontation with deputies as they tried to rearrest him in the parking lot of what was then the Sierra Inn on Auburn Boulevard.

The Ramada Inn, where the Deputy Robert French and two CHP officers were shot Aug. 30 is located at the site of the former Sierra Inn.

According to a story in The Sacramento Bee, the 1988 shooting at the site involved Mark William Follis, who had been in custody awaiting trial on charges of felony spousal abuse, assault with a deadly weapon and being an ex-felon in possession of a handgun. When the trial date arrived, however, the prosecution’s major witness, Follis’ wife, failed to show up in court. As a result, the judge was obligated to drop the charges against Follis.

Follis’ wife later told court officials that she had received a telephone call from a woman identifying herself “Denise White” and claiming to be an employee of the district attorney’s office, The woman told Follis’ wife that the court date had been postponed. But no one by the name of Denise White worked for the DA’s office.

The District Attorney’s Office immediately filed to rearrest Follis.

Deputies trying to serve an arrest warrant located Follis, who was believed to be armed, about 10:45 p.m. in the parking lot at the Sierra Inn. Sheriff’s officials said Follis ran from deputies and was shot when he appeared to reach for a weapon in his waistband. No weapon was found at the shooting scene.

Follis survived his wound and the deputies were not injured.

Cathy Locke: 916-321-5287, @lockecathy