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Man fatally shot at Tuolumne campground had ‘eerily similar’ case in 2017, sheriff says

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Witnessing a crime and reporting it can be just as frightening as being the victim of a crime. Here’s what you should do if you witness illegal activity.

The man fatally shot last week after entering a sleeping couple’s tent at a campground near Kennedy Meadows had a history of this behavior, the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office said Wednesday.

Detectives learned that Timothy Edward Smith, 36, tried to enter a tent with children in it at state park campground in San Mateo County in 2017 and was confronted by the parents, Sgt. Andrea Benson said in an email update. Smith, a Watsonville resident, later pleaded guilty to engaging in lewd conduct in public, she said.

“The circumstances between these two cases were found to be eerily similar,” Benson wrote.

The shooting happened at about 2 a.m. Thursday, July 11, at the Deadman Campground. It is off Highway 108 in a high-elevation part of the Stanislaus National Forest, about 2 1/2 hours northeast of Modesto.

The Sheriff’s Office reported that Smith entered the tent of a couple he did not know and was killed during the ensuing confrontation. The couple has not been identified, and no arrests have been made.

“The completed case will be forwarded to the District Attorney’s office for review at the conclusion of this investigation,” Benson said Wednesday.

She said the San Mateo County encounter happened exactly two years before Smith died in Tuolumne County. He was initially charged with indecent exposure, annoying or molesting a child, and attempted kidnapping, then pleaded guilty to a single charge, she said.

Kevin Valine covers local government, homelessness and general assignment for The Modesto Bee. He is a graduate of San Jose State University and grew up in San Jose.
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