Nevada sheriff: Deputy shot 5 times improving

Elko, Nevada (AP) March 2011

A deputy’s condition is improving after he was shot five times by a man firing a rifle from the roof of a home in the rural community of Wells, Elko County Sheriff Jim Pitts said.

Deputy Lenwood VanNatter was alert and talking but remained in intensive care at the University of Utah Hospital after three surgeries, Pitts told the Elko Daily Free Press for a report. Doctors removed one of VanNatter’s kidneys, Pitts said.

VanNatter was wounded in the chest, hip and legs in the shooting, but a bullet that struck his bullet-resistant vest did not penetrate his torso, said Cpl. Jim Carpenter, an Elko sheriff’s detective.

VanNatter was shot when sheriff’s deputies and Nevada Highway Patrol troopers came under fire at a home in Wells. They had been called to a report of a violent domestic dispute in the community of some 1,500 residents about 50 miles northeast of Elko.

Carpenter said the accused gunman, Peter Mark Coca, fired more than 20 shots before fleeing. Carpenter said investigators have recovered the rifle.

Coca, 43, surrendered more than 24 hours after the shooting, and was taken to Northeastern Nevada Regional Hospital for treatment of dehydration and hypothermia, Pitts said. He faces charges of attempted murder, domestic violence and five counts of assault with a deadly weapon. Court arrangements were not immediately available, and it was unclear whether Coca had a lawyer.

Coca was transferred to the Nevada State Prison infirmary in Carson City for treatment of unspecified medical complications and for safety reasons, the sheriff said. Pitts didn’t specify the medical complications but said the Elko County Jail was unable to provide the treatment and secure supervision needed.

Coca’s wife, Tracie Ann Coca, 39, was arrested and accused of helping her husband elude officers after the shooting. She was jailed on $50,000 bail pending a court appearance on suspicion of aiding and abetting.

Deputies, officers and agents from multiple agencies including the Elko, Humboldt and Washoe county sheriff’s offices, NHP, Elko Tribal Police, Nevada Division of Investigation, U.S. marshal’s office and Elko police took part in the manhunt.

Sheriff’s records identify Peter Coca as a licensed electrical contractor with a criminal history including battery, obstruction and driving under the influence allegations.