SANTA ROSA – On the Saturday after Thanksgiving, November 29, a Santa Rosa Police officer patrolling in Southwest Santa Rosa near the Southgate Plaza shopping center pulled up behind a Black Dodge truck stopped at the light on Stony Point Road. The officer could see and hear a man in the truck yelling loudly at a woman seated next to him. Concerned for her safety, the officer observed them as they sat at the light, according to a police press report.
The light turned green, but the driver was so busy shouting at the woman that he didn’t notice. When he did finally see the green light, he punched the accelerator, spun the wheels and fishtailed it as he sped through the intersection of Stony Point and Sebastopol Road. The officer followed as he drove south, turning on the lights to pull the truck over. The driver quickly turned right on Gardner Street into the residential neighborhood, and didn’t stop for several blocks.
When he reached the area near Cook School Park, he finally pulled over, immediately jumping out of the truck and running into the homes on the left/south side of the street, climbing over fences into backyards. The officer, after calling for backup, pursued him on foot. A perimeter was set up, and responding officers joined in the search with the help of a police K-9. The man was located hiding in a backyard of a house on Joseph Court East, the next street over from Gardner.
The man, later identified as 38-year-old Stephen Charles Moreci, did not come out from behind the backyard shed he was trying to hide behind. Officers, in a show of mercy, did not send the police dog in, however, but entered the space between the fence and shed to extricate the man physically. Fortunately for all parties he did not put up a fight, and was handcuffed and taken into custody.
Moreci was under probation for three prior driving under the influence convictions, in 2000, 2007, and 2013. He showed signs once again of being under the influence, but refused to submit to a chemical test, which is required under the terms of his probation. A search warrant was granted to perform a blood test on him, however.
Meanwhile, the residents of the home he had tried to hide out in, which included several small children, were quite upset and shaken by the incident and sudden invasion into their backyard by the culprit and a cadre of officers and a police dog. They had to be assured by the officers that everything was now alright and the bad man was being taken away. And the woman in the truck, who had been subject to Moreci’s tirades against her, must have thought the best place for her was elsewhere – she took off while the officer was chasing Moreci, and was never identified or located.
Stephen Moreci, of Santa Rosa, was booked at the Sonoma County Jail and charged with DUI and resisting arrest. Due to his previous convictions, he was also charged with driving on a suspended license, and parole violations for DUI and the suspended license, and failure to install an ignition interlock device.