Lynn Hajek and her husband were on their usual walk through their Oakmont neighborhood Monday afternoon when they were startled to see a man standing in his front doorway shoot a fawn at close range.
“I heard a loud crack. I heard a fawn scream. I saw smoke from the gun,” she said. ”
It turned out to be a high-powered pellet rifle, but the projectile lodged in the young animal's spine, paralyzing its back legs.
“The fawn was bleeding profusely but very much alive,” Hajek said. “Where he hit it injured it severely, but didn't kill it.”
The 3-month-old deer was taken to a veterinarian but had to be euthanized.
Santa Rosa police cited the shooter, Robert A. Bergeron, 73, for several misdemeanor violations of the Fish and Game code, including unlawful taking of an animal and taking a deer without a permit.
As news of the incident spread through the retirement community, there was conjecture that the fawn, which was seen with a sibling and its mother before the shooting, was feeding on Bergeron's plants and he was angered by it.
But a deer expert said the animals would not be attracted to the vegetation in his yard — juniper and rosemary.
In a brief interview the day after the shooting, Bergeron could give no explanation for what prompted him to pick up a gun and shoot the fawn.
“It's a bad situation. I'm mortified and embarrassed,” he said.
“It was an egregious error on my part,” he said. “It was one of the stupidest things I ever did in my life.”
“I've been under a a colossal amount of stress for a number of years now,” Bergeron said, citing an ongoing failure of his wife's health and a major renovation of the Oakmont home he bought on Hillsdale Drive in March.
“The move here was probably a bad idea,” he said.
But he couldn't explain why he took it out on the fawn.