Suspect in shooting death of father released
A Smartville-area man jailed for allegedly killing his father was freed Tuesday after the Nevada County District Attorney’s Office concluded he acted in self-defense.
Frank Fire Thunder, 32, was released after 5 p.m. from Wayne Brown Correctional Facility, where he’d been held without bail since allegedly shooting his father, 65-year-old Jean McFarland, Thursday at the Big Oak Valley home they shared.
“At the present time, the evidence indicates the shooting resulted from Mr. Fire Thunder acting in self-defense. He was in reasonable fear for his life and shot through a door at Mr. McFarland after (Fire Thunder) had been shot by Mr. McFarland. It appeared Mr. McFarland was attempting to come through the door to continue the assault on Mr. Fire Thunder,” a DA’s Office statement said.
Assistant DA Ron Wolfson said the decision not to file charges is preliminary, pending results of an autopsy and forensic tests. Prosecutors had until Tuesday to file charges or release Fire Thunder.
Fire Thunder couldn’t be reached for comment, but the county Public Defender’s Office, which represented him, praised the decision.
“We’re elated the DA did the right thing,” Assistant Public Defender Richard Wilcox said.
McFarland started shooting at Fire Thunder at their Shepard Road home on Thursday. Shot once in his right side, Fire Thunder grabbed another of his father’s guns and retreated to the garage, Wolfson said.
McFarland shot through a door leading to the garage, and Fire Thunder shot back through the door, striking McFarland in the head and collar bone, according to Wolfson.
Fire Thunder made a 911 call asking for help from the Sheriff’s Office. Fire Thunder also called his mother, who was in Penn Valley, asking her to respond.
Unless the results of forensic tests contain surprises, the DA’s decision to not file charges will likely stand, Wolfson said. He declined to characterize the domestic dispute that led to the shootings.
The self-defense finding was the second this summer, after the DA’s office concluded in July that Deputy Don Clark was justified in the June 26 shooting of Ezra Clow at a Nevada City-area cemetery.
Clark had intended to talk with Clow about a vehicle arson during their meeting. The arson remains under investigation.
The last time a civilian was cleared in a killing was 1996, when a grand jury decided not to indict Nathaniel Prout for fighting a man who died of head injuries. The fight occurred in French Corral after a driving-related confrontation.
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