Autopsy supports sheriff's deputies
[Santa Clarita]

Holly Edwards Staff Writer
January 26, 2001, Friday, SAC EDITION
Copyright 2001 Tower Media, Inc.
The Daily News of Los Angeles
January 26, 2001, Friday, SAC EDITION

(SANTA CLARITA, CA) -- A 37-year-old Canyon Country man killed in a shootout with sheriff's deputies was shot four times and was under the influence of alcohol and cocaine when he died, an autopsy report released this week shows.

Mark Gault was shot Nov. 18 just after 1 a.m. when he began firing an assault rifle at three Santa Clarita sheriff's deputies responding to a vandalism report in the 23900 block of Snapdragon Place, officials said.

Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department officials who investigated the shooting said the deputies clearly acted in self-defense.

''All the circumstances indicate that without a doubt deadly force was justified,'' said Detective Danny Smith, a Sheriff's Department homicide investigator.

Gault died of a single shotgun wound to the chest and received nonfatal firearm injuries to his shoulder, hand and forearm, the autopsy report shows.

The shooting occurred after Gault emerged from his house with an assault rifle and two handguns, officials said. While he initially complied with the deputies' orders to drop the weapons, he suddenly picked up the assault rifle and began firing, said Smith.

Authorities say Gault had been despondent over his mother's illness and appeared to be extremely upset before the shooting.

''He made some comments to his aunt when he was getting his guns out of the safe that if he's shot, at least he'll be with his mother when she dies,'' Smith said. ''But unlike a lot of suicide-by-cop cases, he was trying to take a couple (of) cops with him.''

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