Multiple witnesses to a shooting in Lake Isabella earlier this month say the incident occurred as a result of the shooter's flying a drone over nearby residences and yards, raising privacy concerns, according to court documents that recently became available.
Neighbors of 33-year-old Alfred Neith told sheriff's investigators a number of people became alarmed — and angry — over Neith's use of the drone. Some believed Neith, who has pleaded not guilty to charges including attempted murder, may have been recording their families.
Neith himself said his use of the drone made him a target of verbal abuse, and on March 9 some people showed up at his home and challenged him to a fight according to the documents, which provide the most detailed account yet of the incident.
Upon hearing people outside his house, Neith armed himself with a handgun and confronted them, the documents said. They argued, the encounter carrying over to the intersection of Scovern and Steensen streets.
During the argument, Neith's wife ran toward one of the other men, a 52-year-old neighbor. One witness told investigators she slapped the man; another said she pushed him.
What happened next is in dispute. One witness said the 52-year-old — whose name is redacted from the documents — extended his arm to stop Neith's wife from hitting him again. Neith claimed the man struck his wife in the head with an empty beer bottle.
Whatever the cause, Neith's wife fell to the ground, according to the documents. Neith then raised his gun and opened fire, shooting the 52-year-old four times.
"There was nothing I could do," Neith's wife told investigators according to the documents.
Struck twice in the lower left side of his stomach, once to the right side of his rib cage and once in the upper left portion of his chest, the man was rushed to a hospital. He survived.
Neith told investigators he walked back to his house, placed the gun underneath the seat cushion to a swinging bench outside his front door, then sat on the bench. Detectives recovered the gun, a Glock 19 9mm.
Investigators found four bullet casings and bloody clothing in the roadway, and a blue Bud Light glass beer bottle on the dirt shoulder.
Neith said he feared for his and his wife's lives when he opened fire, but investigators noted he had no injuries and admitted to leaving his house with a loaded firearm. No gun was found on the victim.
"I believe that (Neith) premeditated that he was going to the use the firearm to end an ongoing dispute," an investigator wrote.
Neith's next court hearing is scheduled for April 16.