One victim killed Tuesday by South Placer shooter

By: Brody Fernandez Of Gold Country Media
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Stanley Stepanski III, of Florence, Montana was the shooter in Tuesday’s deadly shooting spree that left one victim dead, another victim in the hospital and a K-9 wounded in south Placer, according to the Placer County Sheriff’s Office.

According to the law enforcement agency, despite social media rumors, Stapanski III., 48, had no known connection to any of the victims or the area.

Stepanski III, fired a handgun in several locations in rural Newcastle and Loomis and on Interstate 80 Tuesday night before being fatally shot by law enforcement, according to Placer County Sheriff Spokesman Lt. Andrew Scott.

Two victims were shot in the Loomis and Newcastle areas and taken to the hospital, according to Scott. One victim, 93-year-old Mary Toste of Penryn died and the other victim’s condition is unknown.

Anxiety among residents was high as Placer Alert and other local emergency service stations sent out a “shelter in place” warning to the areas that reported gunfire, according to the Placer County Sheriff’s Office.

Initial 9-1-1 calls at about 7 p.m. Tuesday reported a man driving his Dodge pick-up truck recklessly in a Newcastle parking lot, where about 14 gunshots were heard, according to Scott.  

“Numerous shots were fired from the suspect’s truck as it traveled along Rock Springs Road in Penryn, where one house was struck by gunfire,” Scott said.

According to Scott, Toste who lives on Rocks Springs Road, was shot at her door and killed by Stepanski III.

Another victim was shot by Stepanski III as both were driving, according to Scott.

“The second victim then immediately drove to the Loomis Fire Station where he sought medical treatment and was transported to a nearby hospital,” Scott said. “Another motorist was shot at in Loomis but was not struck.”

The Placer County Sheriff’s Office identified seven separate crime scenes between Newcastle and Roseville, according to Scott on Wednesday.

“At about 7 p.m. this evening (Tuesday), we received numerous 9-1-1 calls to our dispatch center reporting a man brandishing a handgun,” Scott said Tuesday night. “Various people between Loomis and Newcastle called 9-1-1. Deputies first poured into an initial area near Loomis, Penryn and Newcastle and began looking for the suspect.”

Law enforcement officers scrambled to other locations in Loomis and Penryn where additional 9-1-1 calls were received at the Placer County Dispatch Center, according to Scott.

“We continued to get more calls,” Scott said, “regarding the suspect brandishing a handgun. I’m not sure where it started. The calls kind of just bounced all over.”  

Stepanski III fled the area in a vehicle heading westbound on I-80, according to Scott.

“He was eventually located near Highway 80 and Highway 65 in Roseville,” Scott said.

Roseville Police Department spokesman Rob Baquera said that at about 7 p.m. Tuesday, the suspect was heading westbound into Roseville.

“Near the Highway 65 interchange, the suspect was confronted by several local law enforcement officers,” Baquera said.

When Stepanski III did not cooperate and presented a threat to officers, he was shot and killed on scene by officers near the I-80/Highway 65 interchange, according to Baquera.

“Upon officers arriving to confront the suspect, he shot the K9 that was deployed,” Baquera said. “The suspect did not comply with officers’ demands.”

Officers then opened fire on Stepanski III, according to Baquera.

According to Scott, the shot K-9 officer was rushed to a local veterinarian clinic where he was in stable condition, as of 11:25 a.m. Tuesday. (See adjacent story.)

Multiple lanes on I-80 and Highway 65 were shut down, according to Baquera.

“I can say that the suspect likely caused several vehicle accidents on I-80,” Baquera said.

Both law enforcement agencies reported that Stepanski III’s vehicle was identified after he caused several accidents.

At midnight, law enforcement officials were still investigating the crime scene along Interstate 80 near the Highway 65 interchange where several vehicles were struck by Stepanski III, according to law enforcement officials.  


Stepanski III’s background

According to Montana’s Ravalli Republic newspaper, this wasn’t the first time Stapanski III committed a crime. In 2017, then 46-year-old Stapanski III was arrested on a felony charge for assaulting his mother with a weapon, after he allegedly became angry that his mother didn’t give him $400.

Stapanski III was charged with a felony and also a misdemeanor count of partner or family member assault in 2017, according to the Ravalli Republic.


Neighbors remember the deceased victim

“It’s just tragic for something like this to happen in Loomis,” said Bruce Doolittle, Toste’s neighbor. “What happened to (Mary) is just horrible. Something like this just doesn't happen up here.”

Another of Toste’s neighbors, Terry Wicks, described Toste as a feisty woman, who at 93 still did her own gardening.

“During World War II, she drove a truck for the U.S. Army and settled down in Loomis on property bordering Penryn in 1960,” Wicks said.

She had three sons and three daughters. Her husband, Joe, died in 2017 at 98, according to Wicks.

Wicks was inside her house and didn't hear the shots Tuesday but said a family member described the shots sounding like a transformer exploding.

Emergency vehicles were soon on scene and Wicks learned by phoning the Toste house that her longtime neighbor, who she visited weekly and talked about their families and their lives, was dead.

"We raised our kids together," Wicks said. "I can't get over this. It's very hard to think that this has happened."


Local leaders respond to south Placer shooting  

“The town of Loomis is extremely grateful that Placer County Sheriff Deputies and other law enforcement personnel were able to eventually resolve this situation,” said Loomis Mayor Tim Onderko. “We are also very thankful that the deputies and officers involved are all safe and that K-9 Officer Eros is expected to make a full recovery.”

Onderko expressed gratitude for the Placer-Alert system helping save residents from more harm.

“The Placer-Alert emergency system was helpful and calls went out around 8:05 pm instructing citizens to lock up and stay indoors,” Onderko said. “The alert system kept a bad situation from getting worse.”  

Rocklin Mayor Joe Patterson expressed his sympathies while addressing the backward policies coming out of Sacramento affecting law enforcement.

“The tragic loss of precious life is devastating to south Placer County. It hurts my heart,” Patterson said. “As crime increases throughout California, it’s about time Sacramento focuses less on things like banning plastic straws and more time on keeping communities and residents safe.”

Roseville Vice Mayor Krista Bernasconi expressed her appreciation for local law enforcement.

“I am thankful for our first responders who put their lives on the line every day,” Bernasconi said.


Gus Thomson contributed to this article.