By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Denair suspect was driving tractor toward deputies when shot

A 79-year-old Denair man who was shot by Stanislaus County Sheriff's deputies as he drove a tractor at them, has been arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon.

The suspect has been identified as Seo Myong Yang, 79, of Denair. Yang's condition has been stabilized and he is expected to survive, said Stanislaus Sheriff spokesman Sgt. Luke Schwartz. He is currently still in the hospital. He will be booked into the Stanislaus County Jail once well enough to be released.

Yang was shot by deputies during an encounter near his Denair home in the 1800 block of N. Gratton Road on the afternoon of Nov. 8. The shooting happened during the second response to the area for a disturbance caused by Yang.

The incident began shortly before 4:30 p.m. when the sheriff's department received numerous calls reporting a man in the middle of the road refusing to let vehicles pass. Schwartz said Yang was "armed with a 2 X 4 while yelling profanities at others."

Deputies were not able to make contact with Yang, but they did speak with his wife and a decision was made that the couple would seek mental health treatment later in the week, according to the sheriff's department.

"Given no crimes were initially committed, and the man was no longer creating an issue out on the public roadway, law enforcement cleared the scene upon conferring with the wife," Schwartz said.

About 25 minutes after clearing the scene, the sheriff's department was contacted again about Yang making another disturbance. The sheriff's department believes it was Yang's wife who made the second call.

Deputies responding to the area found Yang driving a Bobcat tractor in what was described as an "unsafe" manner.

"Deputies tried to engage him in conversation and negotiation, but he refused to cooperate or comply with instructions they were giving," Schwartz said. "They even utilized a tactical retreat as a means of avoiding further violent altercation."

Yang ignored the deputies and crashed his tractor through a fence and drove onto the roadway with the loading forks pointing out at deputies and some citizens at the scene.

"Yang drove at a citizen and deputies with reckless disregard," Schwartz said.

Multiple rounds were fired at Yang and then deputies rendered emergency medical aid. Yang was taken by ambulance to an area hospital for his injuries.

According to the sheriff's department, Yang was defiant and asking for the deputies to kill him.     

No deputies or citizens were injured during the incident.

The deputies involved in the shooting are Jonathan Buck, a four-year veteran of the department and Michael Wilson, who has been with the department for about three years. Wilson was the deputy that fired the shots, Schwartz said.

"Our office is currently in the process of producing a community brief, which will be narrated by Sheriff Jeff Dirkse," Schwartz said. "We will be releasing body worn camera imagery to provide even more clarity to what took place during the later afternoon, early evening hours of Nov. 8 in Denair."

Detective K. Sulkowsi and fellow homicide detectives continue to investigate the incident. The Stanislaus County District Attorney's Office, as well as the sheriff's department's Internal Affairs Bureau, will be conducting their own parallel review consistent with already established protocol. The sheriff's department encourages members of the public to call 209-525-7032 should they have more information to share.