The Last Hours: Countdown to the Death of Tommy McClain

Kym Kemp / Today @ 7:48 a.m. /  News

The controversial death of 22-year-old Tommy McClain in an officer-involved shooting two weeks ago is still largely unexplained. Today, a press conference hosted by Eureka Police Chief Andrew Mills may provide some answers.

On the night of September 16 almost until his death early on September 17, McClain spent his last hours celebrating the birthday of his cousin and housemate, Josh Mottern. Soon after returning to his home, McClain was shot in his yard by a member of the Eureka Police Department. An EPD spokesman later said officers believed he had a handgun. McClain was then taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead. 

Family members claim his hands were in the air and empty when he was killed. Law enforcement claims a gun was recovered but has yet to reveal where the gun was found or what type of gun it was.

In an effort to help readers gain some clarity on events, below is a timeline of McClain’s last hours.

Around 7 p.m. on September 16, a small, festive group went bowling to celebrate Josh Mottern’s birthday.

 Tommy McClain made a strike while bowling. [Video taken the night of the shooting.]

By 9:30, according to McClain’s housemate and his cousin’s wife, Nichole Mottern, the group had finished bowling and went to a club to celebrate.

Nichole Mottern said the birthday party left the club soon after midnight. She feels she has the time fairly accurately because she said her husband didn’t want to leave and she told him, “It’s not your birthday anymore. Let’s go home.” 

Google Maps says the drive between the club and McClain’s home should take about six minutes. 

At 12:12 a.m. Nichole Mottern uploaded to Facebook a photo she had taken of a money clip from the club.

She says that she uploaded the photo while she was with McClain on the porch in front of their home.

In a previous interview with the Outpost, Mottern explained that her husband went upstairs to bed when they got home. After chatting with McClain for a bit, she climbed the stairs to check on her spouse.

According to Mottern, while she was upstairs she saw that Tommy had commented on her money clip Facebook post. Facebook shows he thanked her at 12:25 a.m. “for the fun time.”

McClain apparently checked Facebook at least one more time after that. He commented on a friend’s post at 12:27 a.m. (See image below.)

Meanwhile, according to a statement released by the Eureka Police Department, “On September 16, 2014 at about 11:00 p.m., officers from the Eureka Police Department were in the area of 1600 Allard Street looking for two subjects wanted on felony warrants.” In what the press release calls a “short time later,” 

…an officer observed two men arguing on 1600 Allard Street. During the argument one of the men appeared have a handgun. Fearing the argument was escalating he summoned additional officers who then confronted the man with the gun. 

In Mottern’s account given to the Outpost within two days of the shooting, she said that while she was upstairs checking on her husband, she noticed a law enforcement officer down behind her home “looking around.” The officer “took off towards the front of the house.” Mottern headed downstairs towards the front of the house to see what had caused the officer to move so quickly.

When she got to the front of the home, she said, officers “were out there screaming, ‘Put your hands up! Put your hands up.’ I put my hands up.” McClain, she explained, came out from beside the porch. He started to put his hands up, too, she said, and began walking towards the officers who were near the street in front of the home.

According to scanner tape of the incident, at 12:30:43 a.m., an officer said to dispatch, “We’ve got one at gunpoint.”

At 12:31:08 a.m., excited shouting can be heard. An officer then says into the scanner mike, “Shots fired. One down… . Request medical, Code Three.”


A neighbor who prefers to be anonymous reported in an earlier story about McCain’s death that he “saw an object’ in McCain’s hand and McCain’s behavior was a clear threat to the officer’s life..

The initial press release from the Eureka Police Department explained their version of events,

As officers gave commands to the man with the gun which was now visible, the subject grabbed for the gun. A Eureka Police officer fired his weapon striking the subject. The wounded man was transported to Saint Joseph’s Hospital by paramedics where he was pronounced dead.

A press conference with Chief Andrew Mills of the Eureka Police Department is scheduled for today at 11:30 a.m. Reporters from the Outpost will be on hand and will bring you live updates.


Accident in Laytonville on 101

Kym Kemp / Yesterday @ 2:06 p.m. /  News

An upside down pickup just south of Laytonville was part of a three vehicle collision. [Photo provided by a reader.]

According to CHP dispatch, several vehicles have been involved in an accident just south of Laytonville near Davidson Lane. One pickup was in a traffic collision with two other vehicles. An individual involved in the accident has head lacerations.

Fortuna Police Warn of Scam, Provide Audio of One Call

Kym Kemp / Yesterday @ 7:25 a.m. /  Crime

The Fortuna Police Department (FoPD) warns that two people in their community have contacted them with similar stories about a scam. Law enforcement believes there might be more victims who haven’t reported the situation. In each case, a man called a local resident and claimed to be an officer of the law. The voice message left (listen below) is distinctly threatening.

The truly criminal behavior might be the caller’s odd way of sliding between a southern and a Swedish accent. One moment, he’s sounds like TV’s version of a grits-eating, Yankee-hating sheriff and, the next, he’s a member of ABBA. Judge for yourself what strange regional quirks could produce the sounds coming from this man.


When Fortuna Police checked out the number on Google, (see image below) they discovered that the phone number and the scam are regular offenders. The FoPD warns people to be cautious about calls like this. “A quick [G]oogle search can identify many of these calls as scams,” says the law enforcement agency.



Keep Your Drones, etc. Out of Our Airspace, Says US Coast Guard

Kym Kemp / Monday, Sept. 29 @ 11:55 a.m. / Public Safety

US Coast Guard press release:

Saturday afternoon a quadcopter-type model helicopter was seen flying directly across the Coast Guard base located on Arcata Airport.

While the new technology available to the public and the opportunities these types of remote control helicopters provide is exciting, for the safety of other aircraft they, like any other aircraft, must abide by FAA rules and regulations.  These and other private remote control aircraft (which includes “drones” or UAVs) fall under the FAA’s rules for model aircraft outlined in FAA Advisory Circular 91-57.  Model aircraft must fly no higher than 400’ above the ground, must stay in visual range of the operator, and may not be operated within 5 miles of an airport without authorization by the airport operator or air traffic control.

Aircraft that operate near and on airports take many measures to ensure the safety of themselves and others.  Pilots talk on a common frequency to let others know where they are and where they are heading.  Aircraft have transponders that send out a signal with their position and altitude.  Pilots and crew are constantly scanning the sky for other aircraft.  Remote control aircraft have none of these safety features.  Operating one near an airport introduces a significant amount of risk to other aircraft in the area.  These small aircraft are extremely hard to see and a collision with even a small quadcopter such as the one seen at Arcata Airport could be catastrophic for a helicopter crew.

For the safety of everyone involved, if you plan on operating a remote control aircraft the Coast Guard asks you to follow FAA regulations and do so responsibly.

[Home!] Fortuna Runaway Missing Since Last Tuesday

Kym Kemp / Monday, Sept. 29 @ 7:28 a.m. /  News

UPDATE 9/30: Caleb’s mom reported that he is now home!


Original post: On Tuesday, September 23, Nichole Stoll reported her son, Caleb, missing to the Fortuna Police. That night she discovered a letter from him saying that he had runaway. It has been nearly a week and the boy hasn’t returned home. Stoll hopes that the Lost Coast Outpost readers may be able to help find him.

Caleb is approximately 5‘7”. He has brown hair, blue eyes and freckles. He attended Fortuna High School prior to his disappearance and may be using the name Caleb Hayes. 

Anyone with any information about the boy should contact the Fortuna Police Department at (707) 725-7550.

[UPDATE: Freeway Open] Hwy 101 Traffic Rerouted Due to Accident by Fortuna

Kym Kemp / Sunday, Sept. 28 @ 9:04 p.m. /  News

UPDATE 9:50 p.m.: According to CHP dispatch, the freeway is now open.

Original post: According to scanner traffic and CHP dispatch, an accident on Hwy 101 has blocked all southbound traffic at the Kenmar Exit.

Scanner traffic indicates that southbound traffic is being diverted off the hwy and onto the 12th Street exit.

There are three injured and an ambulance is on the scene. Follow CHP dispatch here for more information as it comes out.

Accident by Richardson Grove, Minor Injury, Traffic on 101 at a Standstill

Kym Kemp / Saturday, Sept. 27 @ 10:38 a.m. /  News

UPDATE 10:44 p.m.: The collision is now being reported as a minor injury accident.


Original post: A major injury accident in the area of Richardson Grove has traffic backed up along Hwy 101. A reader sent in photos of the long line of traffic as the collision is cleared up. Below is a photo of the silver Ford Expedition reportedly involved in the accident.

CHP dispatch is updating the situation here.