2 Sheriff's Deputies Shot, Wounded, Suspect Dead in Yuba County

DOBBINS, Calif. - A man was found dead inside a rural home Tuesday after he shot and wounded two California sheriff's deputies who confronted him as he pulled up marijuana plants on a farm that supplies pot to a Rastafarian church, authorities said.

It appears the shots that deputies fired back killed the suspect, but an autopsy will determine how he died, Yuba County Sheriff Steven Durfor told reporters. He said he does not know the name of the man who barricaded himself inside a home in the remote community of Oregon House, about 55 miles north of Sacramento.

Durfor said the two wounded deputies were airlifted to a hospital and arrived "conscious, talkative and stable." The pair, whose names were not released, were in serious condition and underwent surgery, according to the hospital.

Sugarleaf Rastafarian Church leader Heidi Lepp said she received a call from church members who live on the marijuana farm saying a newly arrived worker had become erratic, was ripping up plants and holding a gun.

Lepp said she called the sheriff's office and told the men on the farm to leave immediately.

When the deputies arrived, a gunbattle broke out, Yuba County sheriff's spokeswoman Leslie Carbagh said.

Lepp said she knows the suspect only as "Sawyer" and he showed up at the farm about a month ago. The property is owned by a branch of Lepp's church, she said.

The property is between 20 and 40 acres, Lepp said, and the church considers marijuana a sacrament.

The shooting occurred a day after two police officers were shot and wounded nearly 200 miles south in the central California city of Los Banos during a struggle with a man who broke into his estranged wife's apartment. Police fatally shot that shooter.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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