Man arrested in stabbing death at Sonoma State University

Unit 1211 at Sauvignon Village remained closed Monday at Sonoma State University, one day after a man was stabbed to death inside the dorm.

The incident happened just before 6:00 p.m. Sunday. Freshmen students Alysse Moore and Natasha Rogers said they were walking past the dorm at the time when they heard the commotion and screams for help. They then saw the stabbing suspect emerge from the residence.

“He started tumbling out with blood all over his hands and a knife,” Moore said. “We, at that point, didn’t know if he was going to attack us.”

Lt. Tim Lyons with the Petaluma Police Department said investigators arrested 19-year-old Tyler Bratton of Santa Rosa. Bratton is being held without bail in at the Sonoma County Jail.

The victim was identified as 26-year-old Steven John Garcia of Santa Rosa. Lyons said the two men are not students, but were visiting a young woman who attends the university and lives in the dorm. The motive for the killing is unclear.

“This is not a random act,” Lyons said. “It appears that everybody was acquaintances. There is no further threat to the students here or faculty here.”

Moore and Rogers said Bratton claimed self-defense before he was arrested Sunday night.

“He said, ‘This is my knife. If they ask for it, they can have it. I was defending myself.’ He kept saying, ‘I did what I had to do, I was defending myself. I was defending myself.’”

Sonoma State University President Judy Sakaki said counselors are available to help students cope with the tragedy during finals week.

“Our focus today will be continuing to ensure the needs of our students and campus community are met,” Sakaki said.

Authorities said they are interviewing witnesses and serving search warrants for phones, but they did find a knife that they believe was used in the stabbing. Anyone with information is asked to all the Petaluma Police Department.