Carson City law enforcement officials announced Friday they have issued a DNA arrest warrant for the suspect involved in a shooting incident of a local judge.
The Carson City Sheriff’s Office has been conducting a three-year long investigation into multiple death threats against Carson City Judge John Tatro and his family. In 2012, an unknown suspect fired shots into Tatro’s residence; in 2014, a Christmas card with the message “You will die” written inside was sent to the house; and in May 2015, an incendiary device was placed outside the residence. Officials said they are confident that all the incidents are related and perpetrated by the same suspect.
Sheriff Ken Furlong and Carson City District Attorney Jason Woodbury have made the decision to proceed with a DNA warrant to try to catch the man. This kind of warrant is extremely rare in criminal cases, because it provides a DNA marker, but doesn’t provide a name for the suspect. Furlong said this warrant is necessary because they have exhausted every other option to identify the suspect.
“It’s a first in that we are so close because we know who he is, we just don’t have a name,” Furlong said.
The DNA for the warrant came off of the envelope mailed to the Tatro residence last December.
The warrant was issued because the statute of limitations for the shooting would have been up this December, meaning if the warrant wasn’t issued and the police did discover who the suspect is, the DA wouldn’t be able to prosecute. By having this warrant, they can essentially extend the statute of limitations so that the suspect can still be persecuted if caught.
The DNA will be in CODIS, the FBI’s national DNA index, so if the man is arrested on other charges somewhere else, the Sheriff’s Office and DA will be notified.
The District Attorney’s office checked with other offices in the area, including the Major Violator’s Unit in Washoe County, and no one can remember this type of warrant being issued before, Woodbury said. The name on the warrant will appear as John Doe until a suspect is identified and the criminal complaint will be amended to include the name.
“I researched the issue exhaustively,” Woodbury said. “We are on solid legal ground.”
The Sheriff’s Office has worked with numerous outside agencies including the state investigation division to investigate possible suspects outside the region, though Furlong said he believes the suspect is in the Northern Nevada area. Officials said they have cleared a large number of suspects,though they have not completely eliminated anyone.
Furlong said one of the most frustrating parts about the case is that there is a lack of motive. Officials are unsure if the suspect is related to any of Tatro’s cases or if it is another incident that caused the anger.
“We know he has a message to say,” Furlong said. “This has been a long-term anger aimed at just one person. We don’t know his motive and its frustrating because without a motive it could be anything, but there is a deep anger. Shooting a gun is an intense anger and he has a rage that he hasn’t been able to let go.”
Both officials said this case is high priority, despite the lack of personal and property damage.
“In the sense of being hurt, in the sense of somebody’s losing property of a significant value, there are more significant cases that our two offices are dealing with,” Woodbury said. “What I think causes all of us to take this case so seriously is the threat to the criminal justice system. We are not a society that allows people to shoot into a judge’s home.
“We don’t allow our public officials to be intimidated and the reason we don’t allow that is that we need them, the criminal justice system needs them to be able to do their jobs fearlessly,” Woodbury added. “They need to be fearless of the consequences and certainly fearless of the threat of some sort of physical harm coming to them or their family and that’s what’s been so significant to us it that a public official is being targeted in this case and it is a threat to this system.”
Investigators believe the suspect is an adult while male between the ages of 35-60. They also believe the man lives north of Carson City, possibly in the Reno/Sparks area, due to footage of the suspect’s car entering and leaving Carson City via I-580 at Carson Street at the time of the incendiary incident.
If anyone has any information, contact the Carson City Sheriff’s Office at 775-887-2014, Detective Sam Hatley at 775-283-7852, Lt. Brian Humphrey at 775-283-7850. Anyone who wishes to remain anonymous can contact Secret Witness at 775-322-4900. Information can also be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.