Hemet man arrested after Old Town Temecula shooting

TEMECULA, Calif. — Reports of shots fired in Old Town Temecula Monday evening, July 27, led to a high-risk traffic stop that ended with the arrest of a Hemet man.

Nobody was injured during the shooting and the alleged suspect, who has since been identified as 21-year-old, Stephen Michael Richard Thomas, was later booked on charges related to the incident.

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Deputies from the Southwest Sheriff’s Station were alerted to the shooting at 9:22 p.m., after receiving a 911 call reporting shots fired near the intersection of 3rd and Old Town Front streets, Riverside Sheriff’s Sgt. Sean Liebrand has since said of the incident and arrest.

Deputies who converged on the area and began arriving at the scene as the call was still being dispatched were immediately directed by witnesses to a vehicle attempting to flee the area, according to Liebrand.

21-year-old, Stephen Thomas, of Hemet was arrested after allegedly discharging a firearm several times in Old Town Temecula last night. RSO booking photo

Deputies conducted a felony traffic stop on the vehicle at the intersection of Mercedes and 6th streets and detained the driver and passenger without incident.

During a subsequent search of the vehicle deputies discovered a loaded handgun inside the vehicle, according to Liebrand; who said that while searching a dirt field in the area where the shooting reportedly happened, deputies also located several spent shell casings.

A sheriff’s helicopter that responded to the scene assisted deputies in searching the surrounding area for any possible victims or property damage as a result of the gunfire; however, none were located, said Liebrand.

Southwest Station investigators along with the Sheriff’s Forensic Unit responded to the scene and assisted with the hours-long investigation.

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Based on their investigation, deputies arrested Thomas and he was later booked into Cois Byrd Detention Center in Murrieta on suspicion of negligent discharge of a firearm and driving under the influence.

Online jail records indicate Thomas was released with a citation within hours of being booked into jail and he is scheduled to be arraigned at Murrieta’s Southwest Justice Center on Nov. 9.

Officials have not specified what may have led to the shooting and the sheriff’s investigation is ongoing.

Anyone with information regarding this investigation is asked to contact Deputy Greenstein and Deputy Biondi at the Southwest Sheriff’s Station at (951) 696-3000. Callers can refer to incident file number TE20209238 and can remain anonymous.


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Contact the writer: trevor.rcns@gmail.com

Trevor Montgomery, 48, moved in 2017 to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes or has written for several other news organizations; including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, (the now defunct) Valley Chronicle, Anza Valley Outlook, and Hemet & San Jacinto Chronicle; as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County and Mountain Echo in Shasta County.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 29 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 16 grandchildren.

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