Winnemucca resident Clinton Diong, age 38, was given a maximum suspended prison sentence of 48-120 months with the opportunity to complete a veteran’s treatment diversion program in Reno as a condition of probation and the opportunity to avoid the category B felony charge after pleading no contest to shooting into a vehicle occupied by several people including two small children, hitting one woman in the neck, causing trauma to the victim and family. 

Diong was arrested in the early morning of September 21, 2020, at approximately 2:15 a.m. after a 24-year-old woman was shot in the neck and injured while driving a vehicle in the Moon Lane area of Winnemucca.

Diong was initially booked into the Humboldt County Detention Center on one count of felony battery with a deadly weapon, three counts of child endangerment with a deadly weapon, one felony count of discharging a firearm at or into a structure/vehicle, one count of misdemeanor battery and one felony count of possession of a firearm under the influence of drugs or alcohol with a total bail of $826,140. 

Diong has been in custody at the Humboldt County Detention Center since the incident occurred last year. 

Later accounts of the incident alleged that Diong was naked in the front yard of his residence wielding a handgun at the time he fired shots into the vehicle, which was occupied by his fiance’s daughter, her husband and their two young children. He then reportedly got on the roof in a military-style warzone behavior when cops arrived.

The victim who was shot in the neck recovered, but said that if the bullet would have been in a slightly different area of her neck, she was told she would have died. In the January 26 sentencing hearing, she said she still can’t hold her one-year-old baby due to excruciating pain from the incident. 

On Dec. 1, 2020, Diong pleaded no contest to one count of category B felony discharging a firearm into a vehicle pursuant to plea negotiations. 

The charge penalty includes up to 10 years in prison, a maximum $5,000 fine and eligibility for probation in Nevada. 

Diong applied for veteran’s court as he is a former marine who was honorably discharged from the service. 

Diong’s attorney, Humboldt County Public Defender Matthew Stermitz told the court that his client would be eligible for a veteran’s court program based in Reno since Nevada law changed in 2020, to allow individuals who committed crimes of violence into the program who were previously ineligible; except in cases of a category A felony or category B felony sex offense. 

Stermitz asked the court to allow Diong to have a chance at probation and veteran’s court, which includes random drug and alcohol testing, Department of Parole and Probation supervision, professional treatment and possible monthly check-in hearings. 

Diong reportedly grew up in Winnemucca and went right into the marines following high school, where he participated in “heat of exchange” military experiences, which Stermitz said may have contributed to his diagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental health issues. 

Diong’s fiance reported that Diong had recently been placed on medication for mental health treatment which seems to have triggered the observed decline in mental stability leading up to the incident. 

Deputy District Attorney Richard Haas also recommended that Diong be given a suspended prison sentence to include probation and the ability to participate in veteran’s treatment court, pursuant to plea negotiations. 

Several individuals attended the hearing to speak on behalf of Diong’s character, including two friends, his fiance and his little sister. 

The victim who was shot also shared her story, as well as her husband. The victim and her husband spoke of how the whole incident has transformed their lives in everything from their relationship with the victim’s mother (Diong’s fiance), the residual effects on their children who reportedly now can’t stand to sleep in their own bed or ride in the car without extreme issues. 

“At this time I have no forgiveness for anything. I wish him the best and hope he gets help,” said the victim’s husband. “In this defense, my wife is so hurt that her mom is still standing by the guy that almost took her life, they were so close, they did everything together and now they don’t barely talk. It’s hard but that’s all I really have right now.” 

Diong told the court that he had some sobering realizations while sitting in jail over the past several months and asked for a chance at help rather than just prison.

“I want to try, I need your help to try to get better, I’ve never asked for help before, I’ve always kept it in,” said Diong. “I just want help this way, don’t throw me away, I don’t want to be trash. I don’t want to be a monster, I want to try.”  

Along with the suspended maximum prison sentence and probation, Diong was ordered to pay a $153 DNA collection and analysis fee, $25 administrative assessment fee, $1,000 public defender fee and $5,000 fine.

No restitution was requested or ordered in the matter to the victim or family. Diong was ordered not to have contact with the victims in the case until probation is completed. 

“I’m doing what I can as a judge to ensure that if there is any chance of success for you to be a grandpa or father or husband or best friend that you understand the consequences are the harshest I can give you, 48 months may sound like a long time but as you know in your 38 years, that’s not long,” said Sixth Judicial District Court Judge Michael Montero. “The toughest part of this is whether you are going to be able to successfully complete probation, because if you don’t then I’m not going to have any other remorse or give any other opportunity for serving our country, no other opportunity in this case but the maximum punishment.”