MSPD: Struggle for gun resulted in woman's death

Skye Kinkade

The man arrested in the fatal shooting of a Mount Shasta woman Friday afternoon was the cousin of the victim, reported Mount Shasta Police Department officer Robert Gibson.

Earl Dodds, 67, of Mount Shasta was booked into Siskiyou County Jail on charges of involuntary manslaughter in the death of Claudia Balassi, 68, said Mount Shasta Police Chief Parish Cross.

Balassi was pronounced dead at Mercy Medical Center at approximately 4:15 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 10, Cross said.

After their investigation and interviews with the suspect, MSPD officers determined that Dodds was visiting Balassi's home at the Chateau Shasta Trailer Park, where she was to perform a psychic reading for him, Gibson said.

"The victim was aware Dodds carries around a gun, and she didn't want him to have it," Gibson said. "The suspect stated the victim began pulling at his backpack in an attempt to take the gun. After a physical struggle, the gun began falling out of the bag and when he tried to push it back in, the gun went off through the backpack, hitting the victim in the clavical," said Gibson.

Five men who were nearby heard the gunshot, responded to the scene and secured the .44 caliber handgun from Dodds, Gibson said. They immediately began CPR on Balassi and tried to stop her bleeding until law enforcement arrived.

Gibson said during a subsequent search of Balassi's apartment, officers located fragments of the bullet.

When officers conducted a search of Dodds' home, they recovered three other firearms, including two assault rifles and "a lot of ammunition," Gibson said.

Dodds has no permit to carry a concealed weapon, Gibson added.