By Annette Wong-Toi and Anna Zheng
SACRAMENTO, CA – Jerren Irving appeared in Sacramento County Superior Court for a preliminary hearing last week for four felony counts from August 2020 when he was accused of discharging a firearm multiple times and threatening his neighbor over text.
And, allegedly biting off a part of his father’s ear.
The Irving household is located in a rural area in Sacramento County, repeatedly referred to as “the country.” They have two neighbors, one of which they have had a good relationship with for 34 years, according to Deputy District Attorney Tara Crabill.
According to a 911 communication operator, at around 11 p.m. last August, the accused’s father ran across the street to take refuge with one of his neighbors, who called 911 upon seeing his injuries.
The DDA played 11 minutes of the call, during which Irving’s father himself got on the phone, but sounded unintelligible. It sounded as if he was in a state of distress, likely due to the nature of the attack he had allegedly endured.
DDA Crabill’s second witness was Deputy Andrey Nedeolgo, who had been dispatched as part of the county’s SWAT team in response to the call.
The team reported to the defendant’s neighbor’s residence, where his father was found lying in the driveway. His face was covered in blood and he appeared to be moaning in pain, “unable to communicate.”
The third witness called was Deputy Billy Ly, who responded to a call from the defendant Irving’s’ third neighbor, who stated that he was “shooting the firearm towards her house.”
Officer Ly was able to secure Irving’s phone number, and asked him to meet the deputies in the street. However, he was met with hostility. Irving replied that “if [they] came onto his property he would snipe [them],” implying that he would open fire.
Though the phone call only lasted about a minute, Irving’s demeanor was unsettling, deputies testified, noting, “Most of it was him yelling.”
The fourth witness called was a woman who had lived across the street from the Irvings for 34 years. She described her relationship with the family as cordial, and stated that she had all of their phone numbers.
At around 11:57 p.m., she called 911 because she heard multiple shots near her home, noting ,“It’s not uncommon to hear shots out in the country, but [not] so many [rapidly fired] and not so many.” She claimed to have heard at least 25 gunshots.
Concerned, she texted Irving asking if it was him. He texted back, “This is country life, MYOB [mind your own business].”
Because it was dark, she was unable to see outside of her windows clearly. However, she could identify muzzle flashes from the firearm, which she claimed seemed to be fired in her direction.
Listening to the 911 operator’s directions to move away from the windows, she was no longer able to see the flashes. However, she continued to hear the shots as they were fired.
Most disturbingly, she and Irving continued to engage in conversation over text throughout the evening. When prompted to identify texts that caused her to feel threatened, the witness read many that unsettled her.
“Some of these you can’t really make heads or tails of what he’s trying to say,” she said, commenting that many of the messages were gibberish, riddled with expletives.
Towards the beginning of their exchange, he wrote, “This ain’t the south, I’m legal. My life matters, are we clear?”
It’s unclear how or whether the witness responded to him, since she was reading out messages that she had received. She did note that she warned him that their conversation would be shown to the sheriff.
After a long pause, the witness tooks a deep breath and read, “‘AFTER TODAY, I DECLARE WAR.’ That’s in big letters.”
Irving allegedly started walking in front of her property, calling, “Quit playing your games!” out to her and firing more shots.
Sgt. Chris Arbuckle said when he inspected the defendant’s home, he found that the defendant owned several firearms. He saw “multiple spent handgun cases and several shotgun cases were on the east side of the driveway adjacent to the garbage.”
“[Inside the home] I located a gun safe in the hallway, which appeared to have multiple long guns consisting of shotguns and rifles inside an open safe,” Arbuckle continued.
Using one of the multiple firearms the defendant owned, “the defendant intentionally shot a firearm and he did so in gross negligence. The shooting [could] have resulted in injury or death of another person,” exclaimed DDA Crabill.
Crabill further reasoned, “The totality of the circumstances are in a location across the street from inhabitanted dwellings and the victim…could see the muzzle flash and believed based on her experience with firearms and with the shots coming in her direction.
“This was a situation where he was angry…threatened her,” Crabill added.
Prior to the shooting, the defendant had removed part of his father’s ear and permanently disfigured the ear.
Judge Trena Burger-Plavan, after reviewing photographs of the ear before and after, observed, “The bottom lobe [was] entirely gone.”
Judge Burger-Plavan ultimately found that there was sufficient cause and evidence to find the defendant guilty on all four counts, and that he would stand trial. Irving’s next appearance will be on July 12 for arraignment, where a jury trial date will then be set.