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Cop found dead was deemed a suicide risk

April 3, 2008 11:15:33 AM PDT
Orange County authorities are investigating the shooting death of a sheriff's investigator Thursday morning to determine if his death was suicide or murder.Officer Gerald Stenger, 41, was on duty when he was found in a shopping center parking lot on Aliso Creek Road dead with a single gunshot wound to his head.

Click in the Eyewitness News Story Window above to watch Micah Ohlman's report from the scene.

The Orange County District Attorney's office had filed charges against the Aliso Viejo resident Wednesday for allegedly molesting a 12-year-old boy for two years more than a decade after meeting the victim through the big brothers program.

Officials say Stenger had been deemed a suicide risk and had sealed records to prevent him from learning about the charges before his pending arrest Wednesday afternoon.

"Our investigators planned to arrest Mr. Stenger in the afternoon, but unfortunately, at 2 p.m., the sheriff's department received a call from an anonymous caller about a suspicious car," said Farrah Emami, spokeswoman for the Orange County district attorney's office.

Stenger was found dead in the driver's seat of an unmarked police car with a single gunshot wound to his head.

"It's unfortunate for the family of Mr. Stenger, and it's unfortuatne for the victim who came forward all these years later and isn't going to get the closure that he deserves," Emami said.

Stenger would have faced a maximum sentence of 18 years in state prison if convicted of the two counts of child molestation.

 

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