Gregory "Chad" Wallin-Reed

While searching this case I found a lot of controversy surrounding it.  Many believe that while California does not have a specific "Stand Your Ground" law they do follow the Castle doctrine laws which allows a person to use deadly force if necessary to protect themselves and their property.  However, the trick to this, and why so many of those who use these laws as a defense, is that you have to reasonably believe you are in imminent danger.  As with so many other laws of the country people attempt to run them as thin as they possibly can and still expect the law to protect them.  This case surrounds the stealing of a solar light. And for that one man is dead and another is serving a sentence of eighty plus years in prison.

In the early hours of July 1, 2011 in Plumas County California a car full of six young men, all ages nineteen and twenty, had been out driving around.  The night prior they had found their way to the remote area in which "Chad" Wallin-Reed, had a cabin.  The Wallin-Reed family and at least one other couple were spending the holiday weekend at the cabin.  On the first night the car with the young men pulled up and one of the men got out near the entrance of the property.  They had shined a spotlight they had on a few signs at the entrance and after just a few minutes had stolen a laser light. The following morning Wallin-Reed guests, Criag and Jennifer Schermerhorn were informed by Chad Wallin-Reed that he and his wife had seen a bright light near the entrance the night before and he was concerned.  It seems that sometime in 2010 the cabin had been broken into but I could only find a small reference to it and nothing specific.

Then, nearly twenty-four hours later things would start out like deja vu, but this time things would end much differently.  Once again, a car with these six young men (five were the same as the night before but one was different) pulled up to the property and one of the occupants got out to steal a solar light.  Up the hill Chad Wallin-Reed could see someone was down there and he picked up the AR15 that was near him on the porch and claims to have shot a warning shot in the air.  All the occupants hurriedly got back into the car and driver, twenty year old Rory McGuire sped off.

Rather than call the police or let things go, Wallin-Reed grabbed his AR15 and took chase.  It took a forensic analysis group to determine what happened next because stories varied. The only consistent thing was that when it was all over Rory McGuire would be left shot in the head while two of his friends were shot in the leg and Wallin-Reed had caused those injuries.

It was determined that Wallin-Reed had chased after the car containing the young men for nearly eight miles.  The occupants of the car stated that throughout the chase they had seen green and red laser lights and that they were being shot at by the truck following them. They would say there were sometimes pauses between the shots indicating the driver was re-loading.  The front seat passenger, Cesar Gonzalez, claimed that at some point he had taken the spotlight the occupants had in the car and attempted to shine it at the driver behind them in hopes of blinding him.  As the bullet continued to fly Gonzalez decided hanging out the window was not a smart idea.  Throughout the chase the stolen solar light was throughout out the window and there was even attempts to waive a white t-shirt in surrender.  The truck kept pursuing.  

Things got a little confusing then.  McGuire it seems either missed a turn or got turned around near a field in the remote area.  After reading several articles, as well as an appeals record I am unsure as to if McGuire wrecked his car at this point by running over a rock in the field and busting his oil pan or if he successfully got turned around.  Wallin-Reed would claim that they came directly towards him but a forensic analysis indicates the vehicle was next to him going the opposite direction when more shots were fired.  At any rate McGuire was hit and Gonzalez got the vehicle stopped.

Three of the occupants, Gonzalez, John Chanley and his brother, Tommy Chanley, got out of the car and headed toward the woods when they saw Wallin-Reed had also stopped his truck, got out and was headed to their vehicle, still gun in hand.  Driver, Rory McGuire had already been shot in the head and lay dying.  Two other occupants, Robert Osornio and Justin Smyth had gun shot wounds to their legs so they could not escape.  According to Osornio and Smyth, Wallin-Reed came over to the car and yelled "You mother fuckers come to my house and shoot?  I got kids," or at least something like this.  The two men begged for their lives, insisted they had not shot at anyone or anything and also begged Wallin-Reed to send an ambulance.  Wallin-Reed turned around, got in his truck and left.

Once he was gone the Chanley brothers and Gonzalez made their way back to the car.  There was no cell phone service in the area and they attempted to get the car started to get help for the injured people but the car would not start due to the damaged oil pan.  Gonzalez and Tommy Chanley left to get help.

In the meantime Wallin-Reed headed back to his cabin.  When he arrived he informed the others there that he had he believed he may have killed someone. He never mentioned that he had been fired upon by the occupants. Wallin-Reed waited approximately fifteen to thirty minutes before going back down the hill and calling to report the incident.  A sheriff and a game warden responded to his call.  At this point Wallin-Reed still made no mention of the occupants shooting at him.  In the meantime Gonzalez and Chanley had found their way to a campground area and was finally able to obtain help and get information to authorities.  

In my research it indicates that Gonzalez and Chanley were put in handcuffs when they were found, presumably for the original theft to begin with.  By the time help arrived onto the scene of the McGuire car it had been two to three hours since the incident occurred.  

In his first taped interview with authorities Wallin-Reed told his version of events that evening.  It was now that he mentions that while chasing the car he believed he had seen a muzzle flash and that he was being shot at. He did agree that he had seen a spotlight shone at him also.  Wallin-Reed admits firing at the occupants but it takes a few interviews before he admits to using anything more than a Ruger .380 that he kept in his truck.  He would later admit to the AR15 being used.  The AR15 was equipped with a red dot scope and a green laser while the .380 had a red laser.  This accounts for the lasers seen by the occupants of McGuire's car.  All of the occupants insisted they not only had not fired at Wallin-Reed but that they did not have a gun.  No gun was found. However, as I often do I feel I need to play devil's advocate here and state that if the occupants did have a gun they had plenty of time and places to get rid of it.  In my opinion, and from a legal standpoint I honestly believe if they had a gun, and if they had fired it would have likely been moot to begin with.

No one at the cabin would claim to have heard any shots at the cabin on either night the boys admit to being there, beyond the "warning" shot that Wallin-Reed admits to firing. After they had sped away Wallin-Reed took chase and at this point he became the aggressor.  His life, nor the lives of his family, or even his property were no longer in danger.  There is no doubt that he was the one who chased these boys eight miles from the original incident.  Had they in fact, had a gun, and they had fired it at the truck, they would have had more of a reason and legal standing than Wallin-Reed had at that moment.  It should also be said that Wallin-Reed's truck was examined and there was no damage caused by any bullets.  The same could not be said for the McGuire vehicle.  

Rory McGuire would die two days later at the hospital so this became an even much more serious case.

Ultimately Wallin-Reed was charged with murder in the first degree along with seven other felonies including firing at an occupied vehicle, possession of an illegal assault rifle and five counts of assault with a deadly weapon.  This is where the defense attempted to use in essence a Stand Your Ground defense, claiming that the occupants of the car had shot at him and he was defending himself and his property.  A forensic analysis of the crime was re-enacted to determine if Wallin-Reed's story or the story of the occupants in the car was more accurate.  The route had been taken that was taken that night and any evidence along the way had been collected.  Several casings were found on the road in the route, most of which belonged to the guns that Wallin-Reed admitted to firing but in fairness there were other shell casings too.  It would be claimed that in this remote area finding casings was not unusual but again, nothing indicated that the occupants of the car had been armed. Due to the position of the bullet holes, as well as the gun shot residue in and around the McGuire car it was determined that when the car had turned around and Wallin-Reed admitted to firing into it, it was done so with the car next to the truck, and not in front of him as he had claimed.

Prosecutors were also able to point out that Wallin-Reed had never claimed to his house guests, originally to the sheriff nor to his father on a jail house telephone conversation that the occupants ever shot at him.  Instead Wallin-Reed would claim that his past military training had "kicked in" and this is what "drove" him to act.  It would be said that he stated he was a Ranger in the military but it appears that while he had in fact been in the military but he had not seen any combat, meaning the prosecutors felt any claims that may have come back to PTSD or the like would have not been valid.  

A twenty round magazine had been found for the AR15.  One round had been found at the cabin indicating the warning shot Wallin-Reed admitted shooting. There were four live rounds left in the gun.  Two six round magazines were found for the Ruger .380. One was empty, while the other held two rounds. Between this and the shell casings found it was determined that at least twenty-six rounds of ammo were fired at the occupants of the car.

It took the jury of ten women and two men less than three hours to determine that Wallin-Reed was guilty of all charges.  For the murder charges he was sentenced to fifty years to life.  He was given another thirty-four years and eight months for the remaining felony charges.  He is in a California jail and will not be eligible for parole until 2092.

In February 2016 the courts would hear Wallin-Reed's appeal.  One of the arguments in the appeal dealt with a picture that had been posted on Facebook by car occupant, John Chanley about seven months after the incident.  Defense attorneys had attempted to get the picture into evidence but the trial judge had denied it.  The appeals court affirmed this denial but it was quite interesting.  In the picture Chanley is holding what was described as a knife and "what looks like a handgun" was in his pants.  I find that wording strange as if to indicate that the handgun was questionable.  The defense would attempt to claim that this picture proved that the occupants had access to and was armed the night of the incident.  They also say that this contradicted a statement made by Cesar Gonzalez had made stating the boys "weren't like that" when asked about having a gun.  As said, the appeals court agreed with the trial court, and I too agree.  While the picture was posted a full seven months after the incident it was never determine just when the picture had been taken.  To add to this even if it had been determined when the picture had taken place it did not prove that the occupants had a gun on the night of the incident.  The picture could have been taken on the day of the incident and still it would not prove that there had been on on the occupants.  And, even if it had been proven that they did have a gun in their possession one would have to prove it had been fired.  Gun shot residue tests on the victims and the car indicated that all shots were fired from outside the vehicle.  Reasonably McGuire likely had GSR on his body, as well as the two occupants who were shot in the leg.  Not to mention the GSR likely would have spread throughout the vehicle and could have been transferred, especially when Gonzalez admitted to moving Rory McGuire in attempts first to steer the car to a stop and later to attempt to go get help.  

There are those who still argue that Wallin-Reed was in the right and had the right to defend his life and property.  I disagree.  Obviously the kids in the car were not doing something they should have and were just "being kids" but the second that Wallin-Reed stepped off his property and took chase he was no longer defending his life and property because of imminent danger to himself, family or home.  He chased these kids for eight miles over a solar light...well two if you count the night before, but he had no way of knowing for sure it was the same group of people the second night.  There is a fine line in which Wallin-Reed crossed when he went from the victim of a crime to the aggressor in yet another crime.  A young man lost his life over a solar light.

Now, I admit to know very little about guns, how to use them or their functions so I asked questions and researched about this AR15 because I have heard a lot of talk about it in recent years as it is a popular weapon used in a lot of the mass shootings we hear about.  I am not necessarily against guns in any way but I do believe they should have a purpose.  Whether that purpose is self defense or hunting makes no difference to me and when it comes to guns, they all hold deadly bullets.  In this case it appears the AR15 became and "illegal assault rifle" not because of the gun itself but for the clips that were used in them.  I have been informed that a clip that holds twelve rounds is the maximum allowed as a citizen.  Wallin-Reed's clip held twenty, hence the charge.  

I also want to point out that as I went to the California Department of Corrections website to look up information on Wallin-Reed, I also put in the names of the occupants of the vehicle.  Of course the fact that I did not find any of them does not mean that they have not had legal trouble but I can say that none of them are currently in a California prison.  Hopefully this incident taught them a lesson.

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