Deputy Brad Cook, a 16-year veteran of the department, is resting at home with a gunshot wound to his leg after being treated and released from a local hospital Tuesday.
Cook responded to a report of domestic disturbance around 9 a.m. on the 19000 block of South Santa Fe Road just outside of Escalon, investigators said. When he arrived on scene, he was fired upon by a man, who was identified by the San Joaquin County Coroner's Office as Daniel Francis Simas, 58.
Simas retreated into the woods, where Cook reported that he heard a single gunshot and saw Simas collapse to the ground, Deputy Les Garcia, spokesman for the sheriff's office, said.
Fearing the worst, such as booby traps around the orchard or a second suspect, investigators responded with helicopters from the California Highway Patrol and the Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department, as well as the Special Weapons and Tactics team, hostage negotiation team and the county's bomb squad, Garcia said.
Simas was declared dead at the scene.
After making entry into the home, deputies found a substance believed to be red phosphorus, a precursor chemical used in manufacturing methamphetamines, Garcia said.
After evaluation by local narcotics experts and the San Joaquin County Office of Emergency Services, the substance was deemed to be nontoxic, Garcia said.
"What they did find were two rooms set up for cultivation of marijuana but they had already harvested the plants," Garcia said. "They left behind fertilizer for the plants, lighting, foil they had put on the windows and walls, and irrigation equipment."
Simas was a registered sex offender who was convicted of committing lewd or lascivious acts with a child 14 or 15 years old, according to a state database (www.meganslaw.ca.gov).
Court records show Simas was arrested in 2000 for failure to register as a sex offender and again in November 2004 for exhibiting a weapon and criminal threats, among others, but the charges were dismissed by the San Joaquin County District Attorney's Office.
Garcia said the investigation of the case continues and the official cause of death is pending an autopsy and toxicology results, which take four to six weeks.
Mike Martinez can be reached at (209) 832-3947 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.