Credit: Paul Wellman

Information on the four officers involved in the shooting death of Cameron Ely was released by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday. They are Sgt. Desiree Thome, Deputy Special Duty Jeremy Rogers, Dep. Phillip Farley, and Dep. John Gruttadaurio.

The events unfolded after a 9-1-1 call was made of a domestic disturbance at a Mariposa Drive home in Hope Ranch on October 15 at 8:15 p.m. At the house, officers found Valerie Lundeen Ely, 62, dead of stab wounds. Her husband, Ron Ely, well-known as the television actor who played Tarzan and now 81, was uninjured. While searching the residence and grounds for the couple’s son, who was identified as the murder suspect by the officers, deputies located Cameron Ely outdoors.

According to the sheriff’s investigation into the shooting, Ely told the officers he had a gun, moved toward them, and “motioned with his hands as if he were drawing a weapon.” The four officers fired a total of 24 rounds and killed Ely. Holding a ballistic shield before them, they approached the fallen suspect and found he had no weapon. No officers were harmed.

Thome, Rogers, and Farley each had about 13 years of experience in law enforcement; Gruttadaurio had two. They were all placed on administrative leave after the shooting, as is customary for the Sheriff’s Office, and two have returned to duty since.


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