Recordings show police response to murder-suicide at winery

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A police dispatcher told deputies that a man later identified as a Silicon Valley investor had been shot and wounded while an assailant chased him through a California vineyard, recordings released Tuesday showed.

The initial dispatch was issued at 11:49 a.m. PST on March 16 telling Napa County sheriff's deputies that a 911 caller reported being shot and was saying “help me, help me” at the Dahl Vineyards near Yountville. The caller was Emad Tawfilis, a Los Gatos man who loaned vintner Robert Dahl $1.2 million. The assailant was Dahl, a 47-year-old married father of three with mounting financial and legal problems.

The two were meeting at Dahl's 10-acre winery to discuss settling Tawfilis' lawsuit accusing Dahl of failing to keep up payments. After about 20 minutes of discussions in the tasting room, Dahl opened fire on Tawfilis, who then ran to the adjacent vineyard. Dahl chased him in his Toyota Highlander SUV.

“He just keeps saying 'help me,' ” the dispatcher reports at 11:50 a.m. PDT to deputies racing to the winery.

“The subject is saying he's been shot again twice … that there are other people on the scene who aren't helping him,” the dispatcher reports at 11:52 a.m. PDT.

One minute later, deputies arrived at the winery. As they pulled up, they witnessed Dahl shoot a prone Tawfilis in the head. Dahl then climbed back into his SUV and led police on a high-speed chase north through the heart of Napa Valley's wine region.

The dispatch recordings capture communications between deputies, a circling helicopter and dispatch over the next hour as Dahl was pursued for about 10 minutes into a wooded area before stopping the SUV with tinted windows in a secluded area. Deputies then spent the next 50 minutes cautiously determining that Dahl had committed suicide with a shot to the head. The Napa County coroner reported Tuesday that Tawfilis was shot five times with .22 caliber handgun.

The Napa Police Department handles dispatch duties for the Napa County Sheriff's Department, which responded to the shooting. The recordings were released in response to a formal public-records request.

Napa Police Chief Steve Potter declined to release Tawfilis' call to 911, saying witness statements and recordings are exempt from public release. Tawfilis' family opposed the public release of the 911 recording, Potter also said.

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