Placer County ties to Highway Patrol murder-suicide case

Highway Patrol officer shoots wife, turns gun on himself
By: Gus Thomson, Reporter/Columnist
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Brad and Mary Wheat

An Amador County murder-suicide case is hitting home in one rural Placer County community.

The Amador County Sheriff’s Office reported today that an off-duty California Highway Patrol officer’s violent altercation Monday night at Get Ripped Nutrition in Martell, 1½ miles north of Jackson, turned deadly when he shot and wounded another man, then turned the handgun on his wife, killing her.

The parking lot shootings ended when the gunman turned the firearm on himself, inflicting a fatal injury, the Sheriff’s Office said.

The two people killed were identified as Sutter Creek husband and wife, Mary Wheat, 42, and 45-year-old Brad Wheat. Both were Colfax High School graduates. Brad Wheat was identified by the Sheriff’s Office as a California Highway Patrol officer but off duty at the time of the shootings.

The deadly encounter was reported to Amador County law enforcement in a 9-1-1 call made by a man who said he was locked inside his business with a woman - and the woman’s husband was banging on the door to get inside.

Deputies arrived minutes after being dispatched, just as fatal shots were being fired in the parking lot outside Get Ripped.

Deputies located the owner of Get Ripped Nutrition with a shoulder wound. The bodies of Brad and Mary Wheat were found nearby in the parking lot, the Sheriff’s Office said.

The wounded man, who was not identified by name but described as the owner of Get Ripped, was airlifted to a hospital for treatment.

An initial investigation that included interviews with the wounded business owner and an “unrelated witness who was on the scene” indicated that Brad Wheat started hammering on the door to get inside Get Ripped Nutrition, the Sheriff's Office said.

Wheat fired a handgun into the store window and entered the business shortly before 11 p.m. The owner was shot inside the store and a struggle followed involving all three people, the Sheriff’s Office said.

The altercation moved outside to the parking lot, where the business owner was able to flee, the Sheriff’s Office said.

“The husband shot his wife several times .. resulting in her death before turning the handgun on himself,” the Sheriff’s Office reported.

Brad Wheat was featured in a 2007 Colfax Record story on his ultimately successful attempt as a 34-year-old recruit to join the  California Highway Patrol. At the time, he was described as married, with four children.

Brad Wheat had grown up in the mountain community of Alta-Gold Run and graduated from Colfax High School. The son of a Highway Patrol officer, Wheat was studying to  become a pastor before shifting to the Highway Patrol. At the time of the article, he and his wife were living in Jackson with their children, then ages 7 to 12.

A 2017 story published in Amador County’s Ledger Dispatch reported on the opening of a new The Edge sports complex in the same business mall that Get Ripped Nutrition is located in. Mary Wheat was partnering with Get Ripped, folding a gym she opened in Ione in 2010 in with the Martell business to establish a 24-hour fitness club.