Crime - Sacto 911

Family, neighbors shocked by fatal shooting of ‘family man’ by Sacramento County deputy

Police lights from a unit at the scene on Thursday night.
Police lights from a unit at the scene on Thursday night. video image

A few weeks ago, Chad Irwin set up his neighborhood fireworks display on Brahms Court, a dead-end street of well-kept homes near the boundary between Citrus Heights and Roseville.

Thursday night he died when a Sacramento County sheriff’s deputy shot him in the upper body. The Sheriff’s Department said Irwin, 40, was armed with a retractable knife and lunged at officers, who had responded to a call from his wife about an argument.

Irwin’s neighbors and family members reacted with disbelief Friday morning, describing him as a family man who had no history of violence. A search of Sacramento Superior Court records finds no prior cases against Irwin. Jason Ramos, a spokesman for the Sheriff’s Department, said he could find no record of deputies being called to Irwin’s residence before.

Irwin’s Facebook feed is full of pictures of his two young daughters and people he trained with at Cassio Werneck Brazilian Jiu Jitsu academy in Sacramento.

On Friday morning, Brahms Court was quiet. Two children bicycled near Irwin’s house, which is framed by a tidy lawn and trimmed azalea bushes. A woman who answered the door at the house said the family did not wish to speak to the media.

“He was such a loving father. He loved everybody,” said Irwin’s stepmother, Darlene Irwin, outside her Roseville home Friday morning. “I don’t know what his daughters are going to do without him.”

Darlene Irwin said her stepson, whom she’s known since he was 5 years old, worked with his father at the family’s cabinet business and was active in jiu jitsu. One of Irwin’s Facebook photos showed him with the Cassio Werneck logo tattooed on his torso, along his ribs.

The shooting happened after two deputies responded to a domestic disturbance call on the 6100 block of Brahms Court at about 8:30 p.m, said Lt. Jason Ramos, a spokesman for the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office.

Irwin’s wife made the call. Public records identify her as Allison Irwin, a registered nurse at Sutter Roseville Medical Center. Ramos said she told deputies that she and her husband had gotten into an argument before he decided to leave, and that she was concerned about him.

“They were in some kind of verbal domestic violence,” Ramos said about the call. “We don’t have any information that she was physically abused.”

While deputies spoke to her, Irwin called and said he would be returning home, according to the Sheriff’s Department. Deputies waited in their patrol car to complete a welfare check on Irwin and conclude their investigation, according to a department press release.

Deputies said Irwin arrived at 9:13 p.m., parked near the patrol car and got out. After deputies got out of their car to talk to him, they noticed that he was holding a knife, and deputies drew their weapons in response, the department said.

According to Ramos, a folding knife was found at the scene following the shooting. Ramos said he did not know the length of the knife’s blade.

Deputies described Irwin as moving toward and away from officers while challenging them to a fight. He did not respond to multiple requests to drop the knife in his hand, according to a news release issued by the department.

One of the deputies, a 14-year veteran, shot Irwin in the upper body, according to the statement. He fell to the ground, dropping his knife.

The deputy who shot the man attempted life-saving measures following the shooting and paramedics also treated Irwin when they arrived, according to the Sheriff’s Department. Irwin was later pronounced dead at the scene.

Jeff Smalling, a neighbor who lived two houses away from Irwin’s, said he was putting away groceries when he heard about a half dozen rapid-fire gunshots. When he went outside, he found Irwin’s wife in front of her home and a deputy performing CPR on Irwin across the street, he said.

“She told me that they had gotten into an argument and he had taken off,” Smalling said of Irwin’s wife. “She said that she heard the gunfire and that she was shocked.”

Around the neighborhood, Irwin was known as a friendly face. During the neighborhood’s most recent block party, he was the person who set up the street’s fireworks display.

“Everyone is really upset about it because Chad wouldn’t hurt a fly,” said Hailey Armstrong, a neighbor who also lives on the same street as Irwin.

She said investigators with the Sheriff’s Department did not remove Irwin’s body until around 7 a.m. Friday. Armstrong described the neighborhood as a quiet place filled with families who had children that played on the street. She said that she had never seen police at Irwin’s home prior to Thursday night.

The officer who shot Irwin is not being named and has been placed on administrative leave, pending the investigation, according to Ramos. Neither of the two deputies at the scene of the shooting reported any injuries, he added.

The Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau and Professional Standards Division will conduct an investigation into the shooting, Ramos said. An independent investigation by the District Attorney’s Office is also underway, according to Ramos.

Nashelly Chavez: 916-321-1188, @nashellytweets