McHenry County deputies cleared in shooting of armed Harvard man, prosecutor says

Deputies shot 58-year-old man protecting themselves from gunfire, court documents say

Randall Little, inset, was shot by McHenry County sheriff's deputies Friday, April 1, 2022, in the 19900 block of Streit Road in Harvard. He was arrested Tuesday.

Two McHenry County sheriff’s deputies were justified in shooting an armed Harvard man on April 1, the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office said in a report released Wednesday.

The report, one of two released Wednesday by the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office regarding shootings involving McHenry County sheriff’s deputies, concluded that deputies Christopher Naatz and Gabriela Valencia used deadly force “in defense of their own lives” and that of a third deputy, Trevor Vogel.

The man shot – Randall B. Little, 58, of Harvard – faces multiple charges, including attempted first-degree murder of a police officer. He was taken into custody following his release from a rehabilitation facility in Rockford and remained in the custody of the McHenry County Jail on Wednesday. He would need to post 10% of the $500,000 bond in order to be released.

Little pleaded not guilty last week to the charges.

The two-page report released Wednesday by the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office does not include the level of detail provided in the other report released regarding the fatal shooting of Nicholas Sebastian in Port Barrington, which the office also deemed justified.

“While we understand that the use of deadly force by law enforcement officers, the ultimate act of state authority, is a matter of unprecedented national scrutiny and that full transparency is essential to maintaining the public trust in the justice system, in view of the ongoing criminal proceedings against Little alongside the following Supreme Court Rules, we are unable to disclose more at this time,” the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office said in the report.

A full report will be made public after Little’s criminal case concludes, according to the report.

According to the report released Wednesday, McHenry County sheriff’s deputies responded April 1 to the home in the 19900 block of Streit Road to conduct a wellbeing check.

When deputies arrived Little came outside of his home with an assault-style rifle, threatening to shoot and kill deputies if they did not leave his property, according to court records and testimony heard in court.

Prosecutors allege the man, who has prior felony convictions, fired his rifle in Valencia’s direction. Valencia and Deputy Christopher Naatz discharged their weapons striking Little multiple times, according to the state’s attorney report.

The investigation into the shooting was then turned over to the McHenry County Major Investigation Assistance Team.

The deputies have been on paid administrative leave since the shooting.

The McHenry County Sheriff’s Office released a statement Wednesday evening that addressed primarily the January shooting in Port Barrington. It said it could not comment on the findings in that case as it has not yet received final reports, evidentiary findings or interview transcripts.

The agency did not respond to other Northwest Herald questions about the state’s attorney’s office report, including whether the deputies involved will be removed from paid administrative leave.

Attempts to reach the deputies named in the report Wednesday were not successful. Both deputies have been on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the outside investigation, authorities have said.

Valencia was sworn into the department as a deputy in September, according to a Facebook post by the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office. Naatz has been with the department since September 2017, according to records in his personnel file obtained by the Northwest Herald through a public records request.

The third deputy on the scene had 16 years with the sheriff’s office, a spokesman has said.

Little is due back in court July 14.