MOUNTAIN VIEW -- Christopher Lacy, just days into his new job as a senior software engineer, was on his way to a Sunnyvale client on Sept. 4, the day he shot and killed a California Highway Patrol officer without warning, investigators and a company official said Wednesday.
The 36-year-old programmer had long worked remotely for various Silicon Valley companies, but was hired at Mountain View-based Mindsource Inc. a week and two days before the shooting, said Gabriel Meza, Mindsource's vice president of human resources. As a senior software engineer, Lacy was tasked with development of Java, a computer programming language.
"In the seven days he worked for us the only feedback was he was doing an amazing job," Meza said. "He was top level. Very senior."
The new job had Lacy visiting various Silicon Valley clients at their sites to provide consulting, Meza said, meaning Lacy would have to either commute 430 miles round-trip from his home to isolated and rural Rancho Tehama, outside of Corning, or stay somewhere in the Bay Area during the week. Neighbors said Lacy moved north a year ago because he despised the hustle and bustle of the Bay Area.
On Sept. 4, Lacy was scheduled to provide consulting for Hewlett-Packard at their Sunnyvale office, Meza said. After a likely four-hour drive from his trailer in Rancho Tehama, Lacy was pulled over on Interstate 680 in Alamo for having an obstructed license plate. After a 10-second interaction with CHP officer Kenyon Youngstrom, Lacy shot him without warning. A second officer then shot Lacy to death. Youngstrom died the following evening.
His neighbor speculated that Lacy had been spending his weekdays in the Bay Area because his Jeep Wrangler was gone the week before the shooting.
"He told me he didn't ever want to go back down there," neighbor Jim Bowron said. "But you have to go where the money is, and Silicon Valley just happens to be that."
An e-mail from a Mindsource recruiter was found in his Jeep by investigators, according to a search warrant filed in Contra Costa Superior Court this week.
"We found him on a job board through a mailing list," Meza said of Lacy's hiring. "It's just very strange. This can happen to anybody."
Detectives seized a handgun safety certificate, ammunition, a gun-carrying case, three shooting targets and large amount of computer equipment, among other items, from his Tehama County trailer, according to court documents.
While searching the Jeep, investigators also found "a backpack containing (mail) belonging to Lacy, pistol ammunition, four loaded pistol magazines, a knit cap and a pistol shoulder holster," according to the warrant.
Youngstrom, 37, of Cordelia -- who donated his organs, saving the lives of four people -- will have a memorial service Thursday morning at a Vacaville church.
Contact Matthias Gafni at 925-952-5026. Follow him at Twitter.com/mgafni.