Ricardo Guerra (43) of Whitethorn (photo provided by law enforcement)
UPDATE 12/24: Humboldt Co. Sheriff’s Press Release:
On 12-24-2012, 12-23-2012 at approximately 6:00 p.m., the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office was notified of a man on top of the Shop Smart Grocery Store, 3430 Redwood Drive, in Redway. The caller said the man was pouring gasoline on himself and was attempting to light himself on fire. Deputies, California Highway Patrol Officers and fire personnel responded to the scene.
When deputies arrived on scene, they saw a crowd had formed in the parking lot. The suspect identified as Ricardo Guerra, 43 years old from Whitethorn, was standing on the roof with his two dogs. Guerra was holding a one gallon plastic jug filled with gasoline and was pouring over his body. Deputies made verbal contact with Guerra attempted to talk him down from the roof. When deputies spoke with Guerra he held up a lighter and then began pouring gasoline down the west wall of the store while screaming he was going to burn the building down. He then picked up a concrete cinderblock and rocks which he threw from the roof towards the crowd below. He then began pacing back and forth across the roof edge.
He then threw the gasoline filled container at the deputy along with rocks. When firefighters attempted to put a ladder up against the building, Guerra came at them with a cinder block over his head. He then threw the cinderblock at the firefighters attempting to strike them with it.
Deputies and CHP Officers then accessed the roof using the fire departments ladder while fire personnel stood by with a hose in case Guerra lit himself, the law enforcement officers and the building on fire.
Once the law enforcement officers accessed the roof, Guerra ran at the officers with a jug filled with gasoline and threw gasoline on one of the deputies striking him in the chest and face, before running away from the deputy. Guerra then hung off the roof which was thirty feet above the ground below. The deputy and a CHP Officer grabbed Guerra and brought him back onto the roof. While they were doing this Guerra attempted to ignite a lighter he was holding against the deputy while screaming, “Die, die, die” and trying to ignite the deputy he threw gasoline on previously on fire. Once on the roof Guerra attempted to fight with the deputy and two CHP officers who were able to overpower him.
After Guerra was restrained, he was brought to an awaiting ambulance with the assistance of the fire personnel on scene. He was transported to a local hospital. After he was medically cleared he was transported to the Humboldt County Correctional Facility where he was booked for felony battery on emergency personnel, attempted arson, obstructing and resisting law enforcement by use of force and violence and being under the influence of a controlled substance. His bail is set at $50,000.00.
Anyone with information for the Sheriff’s 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.
The Shop Smart in Redway was evacuated tonight as a troubled man threatened suicide and attempted to harm others. According to Justine Bunda, a Redway resident who filmed the above video, “I heard [on the scanner] that on Redwood Dr. that there was someone on the roof and they were throwing chunks of concrete at people… The person calling in said they were trying to start a fire and they saw smoke. They got everyone out of Shop Smart.” Bunda ran outside and began filming soon after.
“I saw the fire truck in front,” she said, “and I heard someone yell.” She thought she saw two people on the roof (though other witness’ say there was only one man.) She also saw two dogs running back and forth, “a little chihuahua and a black and white, what I could see in the dark, medium dog.”
Dane Mallow, an employee of Shop Smart, explained that the man was “threatening to light himself and the store on fire. He threatened to hang himself. He had some white gas. He said he was going to light himself on fire. He lit some newspapers on fire….We had to evacuate the store.”
Mallow said, “There was no damage. He threw a couple of cinder blocks down at one of the employees. The Fire Department and the Sheriff’s Department attempted to bring the man down. The man fled. According to Mallow, “I heard the sheriff say he tried to jump from Shop Smart to the Post Office and got hung up on a little wall on the top of the roof that sticks up a couple feet. The police grabbed his legs and pulled him back onto our roof.”
At some point the man struggled with law enforcement. According to Mallow, “[Law enforcement] sprayed some stuff at him.”
According to Bunda, “The cops had to kick the guy and taser him so the fire people didn’t get hurt or the cops.” She said that “As the cops were lowering the guy, the dogs found their owner and they were freaked out. [However,] The fire people got them down safely.”
The whole incident took about 45 minutes according to the Shop Smart employee, Dane Mallow. According to Kathy Epling, a business owner in the nearby town of Garberville, said that there were sheriffs, CHP, and the fire department there. She said, “I was really impressed with the care taken.”
Kim Sallaway, a local photographer, said that one fireman maneuvered the troubled man down the ladder by himself. “I think the firemen did a superb job. One fireman (Anderson) did a heck of a job, a very skilled descent.”
Photos from Kim Sallaway below.
Man with Mexican blanket, a gallon of gas or water (reports vary), two dogs and various items belonging to the man.
Law enforcement maneuvers the man onto the ladder and Anderson takes over from there.
Dog running on the roof but they were brought down very skillfully by all accounts. Note the “H” in Shop was damaged during the pursuit.
Man on the ground somewhat injured.