Humboldt Father and Son Sentenced for Marijuana Related Murder in Federal Court; Mother of One Victim Speaks Out
Judith Surber is exhausted. Yesterday, the men accused of shooting her son and killing another man, Daniel Peter “Johnson” Colegrove, near Hoopa were sentenced to prison. “It has been 2 years and 5 months to the day,” she said when we spoke to her about 7 p.m. last night. “And I’m just tired.
The two men, Rodney and Vincent Ortiz, father and son, were sentenced to 20 and 15 years respectively, Surber said. She sat in the courtroom as the sentences were handed down.
Her family’s ordeal began March 21, 2015 when Vincent Ortiz and Johnson Colegrove had a transaction involving a pound of marijuana. Vincent complained that the pound was underweight four ounces and Vincent went to Colegrove’s house to settle the issue. He brought his father, three-time felon, Rodney Ortiz. And Rodney brought a gun.
Inside Colegrove’s house were a number of people, including Judy Surber’s son Roger Suber, his wife, Ethel and their 7-month-old son.
Rodney Ortiz and Colegrove began to argue. Ortiz eventually shot Colegrove. He turned to leave, but Judy said that Roger heard Vincent yell to his father something like “Shoot em all dead; you got to kill ’em all.”
Rodney then returned, said Judith. “He came back and shot my son twice.”
Meanwhile, Ethel was holding the baby nearby, Surber said. “My little grandson was within a foot of all of this.” Another man was also shot. The rest “all dove out the window,” Surber said. The Ortizes left in a vehicle.
Another man, Francis Colegrove, was also shot. Francis and the rest “all dove out the window,” Surber said. The Ortizes left in a vehicle.
When Ethel Surber saw her wounded husband, she knew she had to get help, Surber said. Ethel carried her baby while running to a neighboring home. “It was a long ways,” Judith said. “She called me screaming, “Roger’s been shot– been shot in the head.”
Judith says she called 911 and then hurried to her son’s side in the remote area west of Hoopa. “We waited an hour and 40 minutes and no one showed up,” she said. “I called  so many times screaming….Watching the blood pour out of my son. That was crazy.”
To make things worse, medical help was there but they needed to wait for a deputy to arrive before they could enter the crime scene in order to protect them in case the shooter was still on the scene.
“The medical couldn’t come in,” Judith said adding that she was frightened for her son’s life. “I knew the first hour was critical with wounds like his.” She watched as time ticked on and her son continued to bleed.
Finally, Roger Surber, Johnson Colegrove, and another man were medevacked to a hospital. There Colegrove age 73 died. Roger Surber survived. And the other man, who received only a minor wound, was released from the hospital the same day.Rodney and Vincent Ortiz tried to hide out from law enforcement. But Rodney was arrested in Eureka the next day and Vincent was arrested in Willow Creek on the 25th.
In November 2016, the two pled guilty.
“I feel like I can finally talk about it,” Judith said last night. While she wishes the sentences for the defendants could have been longer, she explained, “We were okay with the sentencing…I think for the moment it is kind of a relief…It is really nice to see some kind of justice.”
Judith said the trial has been hard on everyone. She feels bad for Vincent’s mother. “That’s her only child,” she said. “I would hate to be setting on that side of it…It has destroyed all the families.”
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