Sand City shooting: Mother of dead suspect recalls son’s troubles — (Santa Cruz Sentinal)

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Santa Cruz Sentinal

By James Herrera and Claudia Meléndez Salinas,, @jamerra1 and @MelendezSalinas

Seaside – Linda Holovits described her son William Spaits as “someone who always wants to do whatever he wants to do.”On Tuesday, the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office identified Spaits, 27, as one those fatally shot Monday in the parking lot of the Target store in Sand City. Spaits’ girlfriend, 23-year-old Tina Money, was also killed in the shootout with Sand City police that left two officers wounded.

A third person in a stolen car driven by the suspects was arrested, the District Attorney’s Office said.

The shootout occurred about 3:30 p.m. Monday when police tried to serve a warrant on Spaits and Money.

Spaits was wanted on a no-bail parole violation and $300,000 in other outstanding warrants, District Attorney Dean Flippo said. Spaits failed to appear while out on bail and a warrant was issued for his arrest Sept. 14.

Sand City police were attempting to serve that warrant when the gun battle broke out. The two policemen were wounded and taken to a local hospital. One was released Monday evening, and the other was expected to be released Tuesday, according to Sand City police.

Spaits was pronounced dead at the scene.

Spaits was charged with burglary in February 2013 and with domestic abuse and robbery in December 2014. He also had previous convictions for check forgery and second-degree burglary.

Tina Money was charged in June with child abuse and with possession of controlled substances. The medications she was said to have without prescriptions were diazepam, used to treat anxiety disorders; hydrochloride bupropion, an antidepressant; tramadol, a pain reliever; and carisoprodol, a muscle relaxant.

Money was scheduled to appear in court, but after failing to show up for three hearings, a warrant was issued for her arrest on Aug. 21. Flippo said she had warrants totaling $160,000.

She was pronounced dead at the hospital.

“It was strange,” said Holovits. “… I was at Costco (in the Sand Dollar Shopping Center across the street) and this check-out woman told me there was a mess at the Target store. She said something about a shooting, but I had no idea.”

Holovits said officers from the District Attorney’s investigative team and the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office came to her Seaside home about 11:30 p.m. Monday. They presented the news that both Spaits and his girlfriend of about 10 years had been shot and killed.

According to Holovits, one of the officers shot in the gunfight is a cousin of Money. Assistant District Attorney Rolando Mazariegos said the names of the officers have not been released pending a determination of whether they would face any danger.

Holovits said police told her that once Spaits spotted the officers, he ran toward the stolen BMW they were driving and jumped into the car head first. She was not sure if they said it was through the driver’s open door or the passenger’s open window, but he landed on top of his girlfriend.

The police asked if Holovits knew the third person who was seated in the back seat, and she told them she had no idea who it could have been.

It’s standard procedure for police officers to attempt to contact individuals who are known to have outstanding warrants, as was the case in Sand City, Mazariegos said. Officers will review faces and check them against police databases.

“A warrant is a court order commanding any peace officer to make an arrest when possible,” Mazariegos said.

Officers in Monterey Peninsula cities often work together, so even though Spaits and Money were wanted for crimes in Seaside, the Sand City officers had a duty to make the arrest, Mazariegos said.

Mazariegos would not say how many shots were fired because that information is part of the investigation the District Attorney is conducting about the incident.

Holovits said her son went to Ord Terrace Elementary School and high school for a time before finishing up at the Monterey County Youth Center in Salinas. The Youth Center is a residential, education and rehabilitation program for juvenile wards of the court.

Holovits recalled going to a parents night at the Youth Center where a teacher said “Willie” was “a pleasure to have in class and a good student. He showed us work he had done and a map he had created. I was so proud of him when he did well then,” she said.

But she recalled many sleepless nights when she worried about her son.

“I went to pick him up many times in the middle of the night,” she said.

“After he started driving, he came and went as he pleased,” said Holovits. She said that though her home was his home, Spaits was there only between stints in jail and that he and Money started living elsewhere.

“I’d run into them around town,” Holovits said. “I’d tell him, ‘You should have gone to court.’”

She said she long suspected drug abuse and worried something bad might happen.

“He wanted to get into a program … one they could be in together. I was so happy when they found one in Santa Cruz,” Holovits said. But when the deadline came he called and backed out. In the end, Holovits only heard from her son and his girlfriend occasionally.

“I told him don’t tell me what you’re doing but let me know how you’re doing,” she said.

Holovits said Spaits and Money have a 5-year-old daughter who has a birthday coming up next month.

“He was loving and caring to his family when he wanted to be, but he really loved his daughter, Tina and me,” she said. Holovits and Money’s mother have been taking turns caring for the child.

Holovits said police promised to keep her informed and that an autopsy would happen Wednesday.

Holovits and her struggle to get U.S. citizenship for her Hungarian-born husband who was killed in the Vietnam War were featured in The Herald in July.

James Herrera can be reached at 726-4344.