Chico, California — On Wednesday, October 14, 2020, at approximately 7:29 p.m. the Chico Police dispatch center received a 911 call from a citizen who was playing tennis at the Community Park, 1900 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway. The citizen reported a bloody “guy with a knife, high on something” chased his 15-year-old daughter. Officers were immediately dispatched to the tennis courts, but they could not find the described white male suspect and later left the area. At approximately 7:47 p.m., a private security guard, who was patrolling the Park in his company vehicle, heard and saw the previously described bloody suspect come out of the Park into the parking lot of the Field House/Gymnasium. The suspect, later identified as Stephen William Vest, 30, was armed with a knife and attempted to stab the guard through the open front passenger window of the guard’s marked security vehicle. Vest then jumped up on the hood of the guard’s car and began stabbing the passenger side windshield and hood with the knife. The guard accelerated away and Vest came off the hood.
The guard saw Vest begin quickly walking south on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway toward E. 20th Street. The guard slowly travelled in his vehicle parallel to Vest to keep an eye on Vest and report into his dispatcher (another roving guard in Chico). The guard shouted several times to Vest to “get on the ground”, but Vest kept moving south on the sidewalk. At one point, Vest came toward the guard’s passenger window with the knife again. The guard shot his Taser weapon at Vest through the still open front passenger window. The Taser probes hit Vest, but did not have the desired effect of a full-body lockup. Vest continued south toward the E. 20thStreet intersection. As the guard watched, Vest entered the intersection at approximately 7:51 p.m. and began attacking private vehicles with his hands and the knife. Vest used his knife to stab at passing vehicles in the intersection –breaking at least one windshield; slapping his bloody hands on the windows of passing cars; slashing at tires; and jumping onto the rear of a passing motorcycle.
The guard’s dispatcher got through to the Chico PD dispatch center and 911 calls also started to come into the CPD dispatchers from motorists in that intersection. Officers were dispatched. As the officers were on their way, Vest moved out of the intersection and walked further south on MLK Parkway to the driveway of the nearby Petco store. At approximately 7:56 p.m. Sgt. Bauer and Officer Page arrived and saw this chase disappear into the store. The officers got out of their vehicles and ran after Vest into the loading bay hallway. The men ran out the Petco front door with Vest close behind, just as Sgt. Bauer and Officer Page came toward the front of the building. At the same time, Officer Johnson drove his marked patrol SUV with lighted red/blue lights into the front parking lot of the Petco store and got out to join Sgt. Bauer and Officer Page just to the west (or right) of the front door. The employee and the truck driver ran past and behind the officers as Vest came out the front door into the parking lot, knife still in his right hand, and turned to his right toward the fleeing men and, now the officers.
The officers shouted for Vest to stop and drop the knife multiple times. Vest continued his “determined” forward motion toward the uniformed officers with the knife displayed forward toward them, ignoring their repeated commands to stop and drop the knife as they pointed their firearms at him. The officers at the same time began to give ground to Vest and move backwards in the parking lot while still facing Vest. Officer Page shot his Taser weapon and saw the probes go out and contact Vest. However, the weapon did not stop Vest and he continued forward at the officers still with the knife in hand. As the officers ran out of room and time to go further back, Sgt. Bauer and Officer Johnson opened fire with their semi-automatic pistols for approximately two seconds at approximately 7:57 p.m. Officer Johnson fired nine times and Sgt. Bauer fired two times. Vest fell forward and the officers moved forward to kick the knife from his hand and render medical aid. Vest however did not survive and responding medics declared him deceased at the scene.