For the past week, the media has been abuzz over the thought of a 17-year-old Marin kid rappelling down the side of a San Francisco car dealership and stealing a celebrity chef’s Lamborghini with a “GUYTORO” vanity plate – and somehow eluding police for more than a year afterwards.
And while that incredible, Hollywood-esque tale justifies the attention it’s received, Homestead Valley residents have had another important part of the story on their minds: How (and why) the heck ?
The answer has come in the form of an affidavit filed against Max Michael Wade, the 17-year-old Tiburon native and San Rafael resident suspected of both crimes, as well comments made by one of the shooting victim’s relatives in the aftermath of the incident. Wade and is expected to enter a plea when he returns to court on May 10.
The affidavit, filed in Marin County Superior Court by sheriff’s Detective Greg Garrett and first reported by the Marin Independent Journal, indicated that 18-year-old Landon Wahlstrom, the driver of the truck that was shot at five times by a man on a black motorcycle, was dating his companion in the truck at the time of the shooting, a 17-year-old girl whose name has been withheld because she is a minor. Wahlstrom’s Facebook page confirmed that detail, though multiple mentions of the girl have since been removed from the page.
In addition, after Wade made his first appearance in court this week, Wahlstrom’s uncle Randy told the San Francisco Chronicle that the girl was at the center of the dispute. Randy Wahlstrom said his nephew and Wade had both attended Redwood High and liked the same girl, with Wade taking “umbrage about something Wahlstrom apparently wrote on Facebook” and “threatening to kill Wahlstrom,” the Chronicle reported.
When Wahlstrom didn't back down, the uncle said, Wade snapped and ambushed the couple after they walked out of the Wahlstroms' Mill Valley house that morning and got into the pickup truck.
In the affidavit, Garrett said a neighbor told investigators that a motorcyclist was waiting outside the residence before Wahlstrom and the girl left the house and got into the truck.
Despite the scare the incident gave residents of the area – the phrase “in Mill Valley?” was uttered by dozens of residents who gathered at the crime scene that day and in the days following – neighbors said they’ve been glad to hear that it appears to have been an isolated incident and that the two victims escaped with only minor injuries.
“How incredibly lucky those two kids were,” said John Lund, who lives next door to Wahlstrom’s family residence on Evergreen and calls the family “great neighbors. To have five shots go through the truck and not get, that’s incredible. If they had been injured and killed it would be a dramatically different situation.”
“It’s definitely a bizarre thing to happen here,” said Evergreen resident Keith Garriott. “But it’s been nice to hear that it was an isolated incident.”
Einar Asbo, who owns a house up the street from the shooting, said he heard the five shots that were fired on April 13 and was alarmed. But he’s not concerned about any lingering impact from it.
“It’s very surprising that such a thing happened in peaceful Homestead Valley – but such is life,” he said.
While neighbors’ worries have been eased, the tale has provided no shortage of details to keep people riveted by the case. That includes the affidavit’s account of how a Homestead Valley shooting led detectives to the suspected thief of celebrity chef Guy Fieri's $200,000 bright yellow 2008 Lamborghini Spyder Gallardo in March 2011.
According to the IJ, the affidavit revealed that a man called investigators soon after the shooting to report that he saw a black-clad motorcyclist shortly before the shooting at the in Strawberry. An investigator later spotted the motorcyclist on the gas station’s surveillance tapes, which showed a "Bilt" logo on the motorcyclist's helmet. Garrett traced the helmet to the Cycle Gear store in San Francisco, where an employee found a transaction record of a man buying the helmet, along with black motorcycle gear seen on the Homestead Valley shooter.
Cycle Gear was able to produce a surveillance image of the customer making the transaction. The investigators then showed the image to the shooting victims, one of whom recognized the suspect and identified him as Max Wade. The victim said Wade was known for supplying fake California IDs to many high school students in Marin, and also known for driving a yellow Lamborghini, according to the IJ.
Serendipity then weighed in, as Garrett happened to be standing in the courthouse hallway at the Civic Center in San Rafael last Wednesday as Wade walked past on his way to a juvenile court appearance for a case in which he was charged breaking into a vacant hilltop mansion in Tiburon, pretending he lived there and hosting a drinking bash there for dozens of teenagers, the IJ reported. Investigators then trailed Wade, ultimately leading them to the Point Richmond storage facility where they arrested and found Fieri’s hot rod.
Investigators also found false identification cards for California, Florida and New York, local police scanner coordinates and a full San Francisco Police Department uniform with a badge and duty belt, according to the affidavit.
“The whole thing is like a movie with the kid stealing the Lamborghini and the police identifying him by his helmet from surveillance footage at a gas station,” Lund said. “It’s all bizarre – and very impressive police work.”
Wade remains in custody in Juvenile Hall with a $2 million bail.