Sheriff’s Office Upgrades Garberville ‘Death Investigation’ to ‘Homicide Investigation’

Andrew Goff / Tuesday, Oct. 21 @ 9:48 a.m. /  Crime

Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office press release:

On 10-18-2014, the Humboldt County Coroner’s Office conducted an autopsy on the deceased body located off US 101 near Alderpoint Road, Garberville. The autopsy revealed the body was a male and he died of gunshot wounds. The case is now being investigated as a homicide.

The Humboldt County Coroner’s Office is close to identifying the deceased male and upon confirmation and notification of next of kin, will publicly release the identity.

The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office is continuing to investigate the case. Humboldt County Sheriff’s Detective Jennifer Turner is the lead investigator and is requesting anyone with information regarding this homicide to call her at 707-268-3642 or the Sheriff’s Office Crime Tip line at 707-268-2539.

PREVIOUSLYDecomposed Body Found Near Garberville

Breaking News: Juvenile Detained, Trinity High School Locked Down, Multiple Agencies Responded

Kym Kemp / Monday, Oct. 20 @ 5:27 p.m. /  Crime

Trinity County Sheriff’s Office press release:

On October 20, 2014 at approximately 3:00pm, Trinity County Sheriff’s Office Investigators learned of a possible threat of school violence at Trinity High School in Weaverville, CA. Trinity High School was put on lock down for precautionary reasons as a result of the threat. Sheriff’s Deputies were able to safely locate and detain the suspect at Trinity High School. 

Students were evacuated to Trinity High’s football field and then students were later moved to Trinity County Office of Education below the High School so that buses and parents could pick up students. 

The School campus was checked by K-9’s and safely cleared by approximately 4:45pm. The juvenile suspect will not be named at this time and is being interviewed by Investigators.

Agency’s involved:

Trinity County Sheriff’s Office

California Highway Patrol

Trinity County Marshal’s Office

Trinity County Probation Department

Sheriff’s Office Wants Public’s Help Identifying Motorcyclist Who Led Officers on High Speed Chase

Kym Kemp / Monday, Oct. 20 @ 2:16 p.m. /  Crime

Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office press release:

The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office is requesting the public’s assistance in identifying the motorcycle rider who evaded deputies on 10-16-2014. The investigating deputy was able to obtain a photograph of the man from Bear River Casino Security. The man had been at Bear River Casino prior to the pursuit.


Yesterday’s Shelter Cove Homicide: Sheriff’s Office Waiting to See Whether Charges Will Be Filed

Hank Sims / Monday, Oct. 20 @ 9:14 a.m. /  Crime

PREVIOUSLYGun Shot Fatality in Shelter Cove


From the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office:

On 10-19-2014, at approximately 1:20 a.m. the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call regarding a man shot at a residence in the 200 block of Olson Road, Shelter Cove. Deputies and medical personnel responded to the scene, along with medical personnel who staged, until deputies arrived, due to the suspect still being in the residence. When deputies arrived, they secured the weapon used in the shooting and met with the 48 year female suspect and a 43 year old female witness.

Medical personnel entered the home and determined the 32 year old male, identified as Ethan Loren Stroud, who resided in the home, was shot and was deceased. Sheriff’s Detectives responded to the scene and a search warrant was obtained for the residence.

During their investigation, detectives learned that Stroud was the boyfriend of the 43 year female. Earlier in the evening, Stroud showed up at the residence intoxicated and assaulted the 48 year old female and the 43 year old female. During the assault, the 48 year old female was able to obtain a semi- automatic handgun which she brandished at Stroud, and told him to quit assaulting the females. Stroud not only refused, but aggressively came at the 48 year old female who was holding the handgun, who then shot Stroud.

Witnesses’ statements and evidence at the scene were consistent with what the 48 year old female told detectives. The female victims had visible injuries and complaint of pain. The 48 year old female was transported and treated at a local hospital for her injuries. The 43 year old victim refused treatment.

No arrests have been made at this time, the investigation is ongoing and detectives will be sending the case to the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office for their review and final determination on whether any charges will be filed.

Anyone with information for the Sheriffs Office regarding this case or related criminal activity is encouraged to call the Sheriffs Office at 707-445-7251 or the Sheriffs Office Crime Tip line at 707-268-2539.

Feeling Threatened: When Firefighters Encounter Marijuana Growers

Kym Kemp / Monday, Oct. 20 @ 7:52 a.m. /  Fire!

Firefighter’s are often seen as heroes. But some marijuana growers perceive them as a threat. [Photo provided by Kim Sallaway. Like his Facebook page to see more of his photography.] 

Thank you, firefighters,” proclaimed signs that sprouted up in northern Mendocino County near the Lodge Lightning Complex soon after several blazes started in late July. Residents near wildland burns are often extremely grateful for lives and homes being saved, often at great risk by fire crews.

However, there are some individuals who perceive firefighters as a possible threat. Marijuana growers fear they’ll lose their crop or even be jailed when fire personnel encounter their rural gardens.

And, at the same time, firefighters fear that growers will get violent or that possibly booby traps set (very rarely) to protect a grow might injure crew members who encounter them. Out-of-the-area personnel on a blaze off of Hwy 36 on August 1st briefly panicked when they encountered wires at a marijuana grow near the incident. The firefighters feared that these were traps set by growers to injure people who might try to access the garden. The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Marijuana Eradication Team was called. It turned out that the wires were there for benign purposes but the incident serves to illustrate both the firefighters’ concerns and the reasons that some growers don’t want firefighters near their gardens

At the Lodge Lightning Complex, some growers, presumably fearful of being turned in to law enforcement, refused Cal Fire crews access to their properties.

Matthew Henderson, son of a firefighter and a popular wildfire photographer (see his work here,) related one incident he experienced at the Lodge Lightning Complex. He described an encounter with a man that he believes must have been a grower.

Henderson said that he and a Cal Fire crew were headed in a marked Cal Fire vehicle out a dirt road made by bulldozers near the front lines of the raging wildfire. Henderson describes being warned by Cal Fire personnel about marijuana growers. He said personnel told him that there were a number of pot farms near the perimeter of the fire where they were headed. He said he was told that “the pot farmers aren’t wanting to evacuate.”

Henderson and the crew did see a lot of marijuana grows. Henderson said, “It seemed like every house that we passed had at least a greenhouse. For the most part [the plants] were right out in the open.” He described seeing several homes with 20 to 30 foot greenhouses.

Henderson, like many of the Cal Fire crews, comes from an area outside the Emerald Triangle and was astounded by what he saw. “You could look right into the greenhouse and see the plants,” Henderson explained. “I didn’t even know [marijuana plants] got that big. I had thought they were the size of ferns.”

He added, “I kinda thought [marijuana] was more hidden than that. Some of the operations were pretty large. Like half of a football field. It seemed like an awful lot to be growing right out there.” 

Henderson described the situation as a little unsettling for someone not used to the culture. He described seeing the grows as “interesting and a little scary at times.”

On the day of his excursion into the back country, after traveling awhile, he believes the Cal Fire driver must have made a wrong turn. A large pickup pulled abruptly across the road in front of them. Henderson said, “[The driver] was stopping us. He was parked in the middle of the road. He wasn’t going to let us past.”

The driver looked at them very intently and said, according to Henderson, “You must be lost. The road is in the other direction.”

This, Henderson said, was “a little odd.” The driver, he said, “was very serious. He wasn’t playing around…he wasn’t going to let us past.”

Eventually, he and the Cal Fire crew turned around and left after deciding that they weren’t in the right area. None of the marijuana grows or growers observed during the drive were disturbed or even reported by Cal Fire as far as Henderson knew.

However, marijuana growers do have a basis for their concerns. Firefighters at the Lodge Lightning Complex in northern Mendocino, were given special instructions on how to spot a “Cultivation Threat” and what to do if they spotted it. (See insert below.)

Excerpt from special instructions regarding marijuana grows given to firefighters at the Lodge Fire in northern Mendocino. 

Under a section entitled “If You Encounter a Grow Site,” fire personnel are told to “report your find to your supervisor and law enforcement.” But, in practice, most firefighters locally are more concerned with building trust with the communities they serve, explained Diana Totten, a reserve captain for Briceland Fire Department who worked fighting fires for over 20 years all over the state. Firefighters, She said, try to reassure growers that “we’re here to fight the fire, not get your pot.”

We were on a fire up in Orleans 8-10 years ago,” Totten said. The wildfire headed into an area thick with marijuana grows as well homes, she said. The fire was moving in towards a residential area. There were orchards, vegetable and marijuana gardens. “We did everything we could to protect those gardens. We saved almost all of them.” This strategy came from the supervisors on the fire. Cal Fire and US Forest Service from other areas, she explained, were surprised. In fact, she said, “A lot of the homeowners were also surprised… For the next few days as we mopped up…, there was a little less tension as the residents realized that our job was to work on the fire not to be law enforcement.”

However, a commenter on a recent article in the Outpost succinctly explained the reasoning behind such a policy. The commenter said, “The last thing we want is for people hesitating to call the Fire Dept because they’re worried about getting busted.”

Totten agreed, “It is a known fact that people have been severely injured and hesitated to call 911 because they were in the proximity of a marijuana garden. On behalf of firefighters, we want people to know their lives are our first priorities…Don’t hesitate to call… . First, we protect [people’s] lives and, then, we protect their property—whether it is an orchard, a vineyard or a pot garden—we protect them. That’s what firefighters do.”

A Cal Fire captain and crew member standing near one of the many marijuana plants found near firelines on the Lodge Lightning Complex. According to a grower near the front lines, no growers were arrested or plants removed during or after the blaze. 

A landowner near the front lines of the Lodge Lightning Complex fire who wishes to remain anonymous explained that, in her experience, the firefighters were courteous and a bit curious. “Our ranch had mandatory evacuations,” she said. As the source of contact for the neighborhood, Cal Fire came up to her house multiple times. “They parked in front of my garden,” she explained. It had about 25 marijuana plants growing in it.

At one point, she said, there was a group of probably 20 guys standing above her garden. “One of them said do you sell this?” she noted. The landowner explained to the firefighters that she only grew plants high in CBD, a compound that reputedly has high medicinal value but does not produce the same “stoned” effect as plants high in THC. Her cannabis is used for its medicinal value, she said.

According to the landowner, “They responded very well to this.”

And, according to her, other bigger and more likely to be illicit grows were not just left alone but actively protected from the coming fire. For instance, she said, another neighbor much closer to the Lodge Lightning Complex front lines had a “large grow operation.” When bulldozing in the fire breaks, she said, the CDF “tried to save what [gardens] they could save. Because of the terrain and the contours of the terrain, there was one that had to be excluded [outside of the fire lines.]” But mostly, the fire breaks were cut in by the dozers in such a way as to provide protection for the gardens, she said.

Cal Fire personnel tagged properties that might be overrun by the Lodge Lightning Complex Fire. The tags contained information for fire crews so they could make quick decisions about how and whether to defend the property. Among other details, the tags included information on water sources, the presence of civilians and on whether “Grow op’s” were in the area.

The landowner said that Cal Fire personnel made it clear to her that their “number one priority was to protect human life, protect the homes and protect the pets, then to protect valuables.” In retrospect, she said, “they realized that what was valuable to us was our work. They saw that it was our livelihood.”

Totten, the reserve captain with Briceland Fire, agreed. She pointed out that firefighters aren’t the only non-growers encountering cannabis as they do their jobs. “The UPS driver, the propane delivery guy, the phone company, direct tv—they go to houses with marijuana in the area. They do their job without having any issues. Firefighters and emergency service people do the same thing. We deal with the emergency and marijuana isn’t the emergency.”

There’s a practical reason for this, she explained. “Almost every fire we go to in Southern Humboldt, there is a marijuana grow nearby.” If firefighters were to bring in law enforcement to deal with the situation, they would lose the trust of their communities and overwhelm law enforcment. “Its our job to just deal with the fire and move on,” she said.

Accident Near Briceland, One Lane Blocked

Kym Kemp / Sunday, Oct. 19 @ 9:58 p.m. /  News

According to Mikal Jakubal on SoHum Awareness, there has been a traffic collision just east of Briceland. One lane is blocked. Briceland Fire has responded.

CHP dispatch said the vehicle is on its side in the westbound lane. 


Gun Shot Fatality in Shelter Cove

Kym Kemp / Sunday, Oct. 19 @ 7:05 p.m. /  News

A sergeant at the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office has confirmed that just before 1:30 this morning, law enforcement received a report of a male subject shot as the result of an altercation in the Shelter Cove area. The Sheriff’s Office and medical personnel responded to find a male deceased from an apparent gunshot wound.

The situation is still under investigation. Anyone with information for the Sheriffs Office regarding this case is encouraged to call the Sheriffs Office at 707-445-7251.