AGUANGA: Questions arise in officer involved shooting

Officers prepare to enter a crime scene where an officer involved shooting occurred in Aguanga on Friday, Oct. 9. Tony Ault photo
Officers prepare to enter a crime scene where an officer involved shooting occurred in Aguanga on Friday, Oct. 9. Tony Ault photo

Neighbors and friends of Margaret Wagner, 53, killed in an officer involved shooting in Aguanga Oct.9, have come forward to report that years of alleged domestic abuse may have led to her death by the Riverside County Sheriff’s swat team.

The case remains under investigation by Riverside County Sheriff’s homicide detectives who have yet to report any new findings to the local news media. Public Information Officer Michael Vasquez in an inquiry by the Anza Valley Outlook said on Oct. 23 homicide detectives are still investigating the case which has been turned over to the Riverside County District Attorney for review.

Vasquez said in the homicide investigation the Wagner’s marijuana farm business “did not play a role in the incident and those details would not be pertinent to this investigation.”

Meanwhile, an Aguanga resident and neighbor of Margaret Wagner using the initials L.D. reported the 53-year-old woman (who was earlier reported to be 62) for a long time suffered, sometimes severe domestic abuse from her ex-husband Raimond Wagner. She said that on more than one occasion, Margaret Wagner had come to her home following an alleged attack by her husband. Sheriff’s reports and court documents do indicate that the couple had a history of domestic quarrels, some violent, that ended with each asking the courts for restraining orders against the other.

It was a reported domestic disturbance in Idyllwild in the 54000 block of Wildwood Drive on Oct. 9 that ultimately brought deputies to Margaret Wagner’s home in Aguanga.

A sheriff’s report said on Oct. 9 deputies received information while investigating the Idyllwild incident that Margaret Wagner was allegedly threatening her ex-husband and his girlfriend with a gun. The victims said Wagner left and may have gone to her rural Aguanga home in the 44000 block of Jacob Court. It was known that Margaret Wagner operated a business growing legal marijuana named the Highway 371 Health and Wellness Center.

An Oct. 10 news release issued by the Sheriff’s department reported that when deputies located Margaret Wagner at the Jacob Court home, she had possession of a handgun.

“The deputies ordered the suspect drop the handgun; however, she refused and pointed the handgun at deputies and the officer involved shooting occurred. The suspect retreated into the residence and refused to exit the home,” Vasquez wrote in the news release.

The report went on the say that the swat team was called in and after several attempts to peacefully resolve the situation they entered the home and found Margaret Wagner deceased.

Vasquez responded to a question about why more than 150 law enforcement officers from as far away as San Jacinto were called in with dozens of law enforcement vehicles, including an armored battering ram and an incident command post. Most of the equipment was set up at the intersection of Barbara Lane on Highway 371. He said, “For the safety of everyone (officers, community members) involved the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department attempted to utilize all of the resources available.”

Deputies remained at the Jacob Court home throughout the afternoon and into the early evening hours with officers and equipment coming and going constantly, according to several witnesses. The battering ram was unloaded and driven down more almost two miles of dirt roads to the home.

L.D. and her husband, who live within sight of Margaret Wagner’s home, were reluctant to tell what they saw the day of the shooting and a witness they talked too after the incident. L.D. said they could always see Margaret Wagner going to and from her home at the end of Jacob Court. Jacob Court has only one way in and one way out, she noted.

“That day we think she was home all day,” L.D. said. “We didn’t see her come in or leave.”

She said that Margaret Wagner, for a long time had “suffered from beatings” allegedly administered by her ex-husband. Police and court records with photographs obtained by the Anza Outlook and Valley News confirmed that numerous court cases and sheriff reports involving the Wagners’ domestic issues are on file. They were in a bitter divorce battle with more than $700,000 in settlement money involved.

“Their divorce was to become final the day after she was killed,” said L.D.

That same day, sometime after the incident at his home in Idyllwild, Raimond Wagner, through his attorney, filed a “Request for Domestic Violence Restraining Order” against his wife. The court record gives this written statement from Raimond Wagner under the penalty of perjury, “On today’s date at approximately 6:00 a.m., Margaret Wagner appeared at the residence where I am staying with my significant other, Lori Parker. She drew a gun and was threatening to kill us both.

“Ultimately the police were summoned and she has been shot by law enforcement. I have no idea what her condition is. I am concerned that she has large sums of cash and may in fact bail out.”

In the court document, Raimond Wagner also indicated Margaret Wagner may have hidden away $100,000. He went on to state he was asking the court for an emergency restraining order. That order, in the form of a temporary restraining order was granted by the court four days after Margaret Wagner’s death.

In the original request for a restraining order filed by Raimond Wagner, he gave an account of the couple’s tumultuous marriage relationship with a document including a promissory note from his wife saying she would pay him over time $720,000 for the Jacob Court business. That note and a lease agreement, dated Nov. 7, 2014, was secured by the property and its equipment apparently owned by Margaret Wagner. She paid him $20,000 as a down payment on note. He claimed she had not paid him any of $10,000 a month she was supposed to pay him after that.

The property itself, according to one of the court documents, may be the subject of a federal tax lien, as well.

L.D. went on the say that she tried to go to the Wagner home after the shooting to remove some of Margaret Wagner’s things to give to her Margaret’s daughter who had recently been hospitalized.

“When we got there Raimond was on the porch with his girlfriend showing others the blood splatters and body matter from his wife who died in the house. Who would do that?”

She said there were bullet holes in the door.

“They were shots fired from outside not from inside,” she claimed.

L.D. said a few days after the shooting she received a phone call from a man, she would not identify, and who worked for Margaret Wagner growing the marijuana plants.

“I think he was a foreman or something. You know it is Marijuana harvest time,” said L.D.

The man, saying he was afraid of the police is now supposedly in the Carolinas, told L.D. that Margaret Wagner was in the house when a large contingent of sheriff deputies arrived outside including a helicopter flying above. He told her he ran to get the papers showing the marijuana grow was legal, thinking the sheriff was there to make a “raid” on the farm. She said the witness, on the telephone, told her the deputies saw him running, grabbed him, handcuffed him and then put him in a car where he remained for almost eight hours as the standoff continued.

L.D. said they were other workers at the farm as well. There were two unidentified women seen by an Anza Valley Outlook reporter being questioned by deputies at the incident command post. They were escorted from one police car to another following the questioning. Sheriff’s deputies made no mention of them in the inquiry.

L.D. said the foreman claimed, “The deputies just shot her down in cold blood.”

As of press time, no contact has been made with the farm worker to verify this information. The sheriff’s office did not respond to the alleged farm worker’s claim, instead maintaining the farm had nothing to do with the incident.

“They just shot her through the door,” surmised L.D. “They didn’t even know if she had a gun because she was in the house when they arrived. They didn’t even call an ambulance to the residence.”

However, there was an ambulance and fire unit on standby seen at the swat team’s advance point about a half mile from the home.

Court records show that the alleged domestic abuse that occurred was reported by both parties each claiming the other was the victim in the abuse. Margaret Wagner was arrested on one occasion during a confrontation court records show. A case against Raimond Wagner was dismissed.

In the Raimond Wagner court document he claims that in recent weeks she had allegedly vandalized his car and his girlfriend’s business in Idyllwild

Since the shooting, the sheriff’s deputies out of the Hemet – San Jacinto Sheriff’s office have been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

“The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department’s standard procedure is to place the involved officers on administrative leave after these incidences.” Vasquez said. “The practice is based on Department policy. Again, the names and identities of the involved officers will be withheld at this time.”

Many questions surrounding the officer involved shooting remain to be answered and remain under investigation by the Riverside County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau and the District Attorney. Vasquez said the media will be informed of the final outcome of the investigation as soon as it is available from the homicide bureau.

2 Responses to "AGUANGA: Questions arise in officer involved shooting"

  1. Annie   November 12, 2015 at 3:40 pm

    The mistress is 53, the deceased was 62.

  2. Patrick Toohey   July 27, 2016 at 8:57 pm

    Is the investigation closed


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