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Motive may be self-defense

Fire Thunder
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

Did Frank Fire Thunder fatally shoot his father in self-defense?

Investigators looked into that theory and others Friday while the 32-year-old Smartville-area man remained jailed on suspicion of murder.

Fire Thunder is accused of killing his 65-year-old father, Jean McFarland, Thursday at their home at 11923 Shepard Road in Big Oak Valley.



Prosecutors have until Tuesday to file charges. Nevada County Assistant District Attorney Ron Wolfson said Friday afternoon he hadn’t received all the needed reports for a filing decision.

No conclusions have been reached on Fire Thunder’s motive, but a self-defense scenario has received consideration.




“He’s saying it’s self-defense, but we’ve got to get all the evidence gathered up for the DA to make a decision,” Sheriff’s Lt. David Baxley said.

In a 911 call, Fire Thunder reported that he was shot in the side by McFarland before he grabbed another of his father’s guns and returned fire. Fire Thunder also reported that he tried CPR after his father stopped breathing.

“They got in an argument, and it got out of hand,” Baxley said.

Fire Thunder was shot once in his right side, just above the waist, according to Baxley, but it remained unclear how many times McFarland was shot. Two handguns – a 9mm and .380 caliber – were found in the house.

There were also five bullet holes in the walls throughout the house.

“They appear to be fresh,” Baxley said.

Next-door neighbor Mark Yocom claimed he heard a heated exchange at the house. Then two sets of gunfire sounded after someone shouted, “Don’t do that!”

Yocom also said McFarland once complained to him about his sons and their friends, and told him that he put a padlock on his bedroom door because his belongings were being stolen. Another McFarland son, Shawn McFarland, was recently sentenced to prison for violating parole.

In addition to 911, Thunder Fire also phoned his mother, Carol. She drove to the scene from Penn Valley, arriving just behind an ambulance.

Baxley said Fire Thunder, who apparently changed his last name from McFarland in recent years, has been cooperative with investigators and distraught over the shooting.

Fire Thunder declined an interview request by The Union at Wayne Brown Correctional Facility, where he is being held without bail. The Public Defender’s Office has been appointed to represent him.


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