DA: Bracklow drank prior to shooting

Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey said last week that there was “nothing anyone could have done” to stop Rick Bracklow from killing two sheriff’s deputies at his Inskip cabin July 26.

“If someone decides they want to kill you in a darkened cabin up in the woods … frankly, there’s not a lot that can be done about it,” Ramsey said. “Everything was done the way it was supposed to be done, and this is what happened anyway.”

Ramsey joined Sheriff Scott Mackenzie at a press conference, where they released the results of an investigation of the shooting, including a timeline of events leading up to it.

Bracklow, 46, had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder but had been off his medication for almost a year, Ramsey said. He noted that Bracklow had been “self-medicating” his mental illness with alcohol for some time, and that his blood alcohol level was .06 at the time of the shooting, in which he also was killed.

Friends of Bracklow told investigators that he seemed to “get better” when he was drinking, and Ramsey speculated that if he perhaps had drunk more that night, the shooting might not have happened.

“This might be a case that he hadn’t had enough to drink, strangely enough,” Ramsey said.

An investigation into the incident found that Deputy Bill Hunter and Lt. Larry Estes entered Bracklow’s 600-square-foot cabin through a narrow hallway with guns drawn, Mackenzie said. Bracklow, who was naked, apparently jumped in front of Hunter and shot him three times in the head, killing him instantly, Mackenzie said.

“It is likely that Hunter never even saw Bracklow,” Mackenzie said.

A brief but fierce gun battle ensued, in which Estes was shot four times and Bracklow was hit in the side with three bullets. Estes lived for several minutes before dying on the kitchen floor, Mackenzie said, and Bracklow lived for about 10 minutes before he died nearby. Evidence found at the scene indicates that he tried to bandage his wounds with gauze but was unable to complete the task.