Yesterday’s Possible Kidnapping: EPD in a Holding Pattern

Kym Kemp / Monday, Oct. 6 @ 6:54 p.m. /  Crime

According to Sgt. Steve Watson of the Eureka Police Department [EPD,] officers working on the possible kidnapping reported yesterday have been “unable to confirm that an actual crime occurred. We only have a single reporting party…[We’ve] exhausted every possible lead.”

When yesterday’s report of young girl being abducted in a black van was received, Watson said the EPD immediately sent out an alert to its officers. “Literally within minutes we had a countywide alert and it was expanded to surrounding counties before [the alleged black van] could have got there.”

Watson said that the reporting party was a person who was walking on foot and was not carrying a phone. The person estimated that it took five minutes to contact law enforcement from the time they believed they saw an abduction.

It strikes a deep dread in all of our hearts to have a child in jeopardy,” Watson explained, so yesterday the EPD put “two people full time on it.” Other officers assisted. Even though this was a single reporting party and no corroborating evidence, Watson said, his department acted “with an abundance of caution.”

If it was a legitimate issue, we wanted to make sure we had done everything we could,” he explained.

Attempts were made to locate video that might show the alleged abduction or the van fleeing. But officers were not able to locate any helpful video. 

Some possible matching vans were investigated but nothing suspicious was found.

Officers attempted to find a records of a van with plates close to the partial plates the reporting party provided, but with no success. 

Information on runaways that might match the description of the alleged victim was also examined. Some families of missing girls were called. “We were able to eliminate several leads,” Watson said, including that of a Redding runaway whose family was able to ascertain that she wasn’t the victim.

At this point,” Watson explained, “we are in a holding pattern unless new information comes to light.”

Previously:



Humboldt Woman May Have Intentionally Driven Children off Cliff, Says Santa Rosa Newspaper

Kym Kemp / Sunday, Oct. 5 @ 1:36 p.m. /  News

A woman from Humboldt, her two children, and the family dog may have been involved in a serious crash on Hwy 1 according to an interview conducted with Capt. Greg Van Patten of the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office by the Press Democrat. The article states the accident is being investigated because authorities are concerned that it could have been intentional.

According to Guy Casey, a former firefighter who was cleaning trash and debris from Blues Beach near the Chadbourne Gulch area north of Fort Bragg, the three family members were sent to out of the area hospitals eventually. The two children flown out by helicopter.

The beach area where the vehicle was found. Photo provided by Mendocinosportsplus (If you don’t follow them on Facebook, you should.)

The Press Democrat’s article states that the crash may not have been accidental. According to their interview with Van Patten, the Mendocino law enforcement officer said, ““We’re trying to establish if it was a crime or mental health related issue.”

Casey, the firefighter who was one of the first on the scene, described what he knew. He said that the vehicle was seen about 20 ft from the embankment on the beach itself about 11 a.m. on Friday by one of the people cleaning up the area. Casey approached the Isuzu and saw the vehicle “upside down and mangled badly.”

The vehicle after the victims were removed. [Photo by Guy Casey]

It is a pretty straight down 300 foot drop,” he explained, where the Isuzu rolled down. A woman, he said, “was half in half out” of a window. Her legs were sticking out, he explained. Casey said that he could see “stuff out of her car” on the hillside.   

She was trying to talk to the two year old,” when he first saw her, he explained. Later, he said, the medical exam showed that “she had a broken leg and a broken arm.” He immediately called for help. 

Casey said that there were two other children about 6 and 2 years old in the car. “Myself and a firefighter had to extricate the [youngest] child from the car,” Casey said. “When we cut off his shirt—broken arm and broken femur with an apparent head injury. He wasn’t crying at all when we got there. When we got him out was when he started to cry.” 

The six-year-old child was injured but was talking. “[He] was asking questions,” said Casey. “He didn’t seem like he was in a whole lot of pain. He seemed to be like a normal 6 year old.” According to Casey, both children were flown to out of the area hospitals for treatment.

The family dog was “was walking around,” Casey said. “He was a little beat up but wasn’t in bad condition.” The dog, Casey said, got a ride in an ambulance to the local hospital where he was picked up by family members. The woman, Casey said, was transported to Mendocino District Hospital from where she, too, was flown out of the area for treatment.

First responders with the family dog. [Photo by Guy Casey.]

Casey said the woman told him that the accident had happened around 8 p.m. Thursday night. When asked about the possibility that the woman may have purposely driven off the road, Casey was skeptical. “From the way I saw the accident,” he said, “to me it completely looked like an accident. An experienced driver on these roads could crash easily.”

However, he said, “I didn’t ask a whole lot of questions. I just tried to get them out.”

Helicopter responding to the scene as a surfer watches. [Photo by Guy Casey.]



(UPDATE) Possible Kidnapping Reported in Eureka, Alert Issued

Kym Kemp / Sunday, Oct. 5 @ 10:57 a.m. /  Crime

UPDATE, 10/6: EPD tweet:

Original Post: Eureka Police Department press release:

On Sunday, 10/05/14, at about 7:37 AM, the Eureka Police Department was contacted by a concerned citizen who reported having just witnessed a possible kidnapping. The caller stated that 3-4 minutes ago, he saw what appeared to be an approximately 13-14 year-old female juvenile walking in the vicinity of 6th and J Streets, Eureka. A large black van (like a Ford Econoline or similar) pulled up next to the juvenile and an adult male passenger got out, grabbed her, and put her in the van. The juvenile was seen kicking and heard yelling, “No, don’t” while being put into the vehicle. The van was last seen leaving westbound on 6th Street from the vicinity of J Street.

The witness provided a partial license plate number for the suspects’ vehicle of “36E4” which he further described as possibly being an early 2000s model.

The passenger-suspect was described as being a black male adult in his late 30s or early 40s, approximately 6’4” tall, with short black hair and last seen wearing a black jacket, white shirt, and blue jeans. There was no description of the van’s driver.

The victim was described as being a white female juvenile, approximately 14-years-old, with long blonde hair and wearing a pink skirt, black top and a pink backpack.

A county and region wide suspicious circumstances/possible kidnapping broadcast was issued to all law enforcement agencies requesting a welfare check on the juvenile and vehicle if located. It is unknown at this time whether or not the juvenile is the victim of an actual kidnapping and/or other malevolent act. As of the time of this release, EPD has received no reports of a missing child matching this suspicious incident. However, this is an active investigation and all available leads are being currently being pursued.

The Eureka Police Department requests the public’s assistance in locating and identifying the juvenile and suspects’ vehicle. Anyone with information concerning the incident including the whereabouts of the van and/or subjects and their identities is asked to immediately call the Eureka Police Department at (707) 441-4044.



[UPDATE: 3.9 Near Willits] Did You Feel Them? Two Small Quakes

Kym Kemp / Saturday, Oct. 4 @ 5:11 a.m. /  Earthquake

UPDATE 9:05 a.m.: An earthquake centered southwest of Willits occurred this morning around 8:45 a.m. It was a 3.9. Interesting little shaker swarm we’re having on the North Coast, eh?


A 3.9 earthquake nudged awake a few North Coast residents at 11:38 p.m. Friday evening. The small quake was centered roughly west of Ferndale.

This was followed today about 4:10 a.m. by a 2.4 shaker centered about 27 miles northeast of Redway.

Did you feel either of them?



Don’t Use Coke With Guns: Buddy Allegedly Shoots Buddy at Marijuana Grow

Kym Kemp / Friday, Oct. 3 @ 3:42 p.m. / Crime ,  marijuana

Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office press release:

Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office Detectives are continuing to investigate the shooting which occurred on 10-1-2014. During their investigation they learned the 31 year old man who reported the crime drove the 18 year old male victim to the hospital was actually the person who shot him. The 31 year old male and 18 year old male reluctantly told detectives after being questioned that the 31 year old male shot the man by accident. The 31 year old male told detectives they had been having their marijuana garden ripped off in the past. The employees that assisted them with taking care of their garden reported seeing people in the area in the last few weeks. The 18 year old and 31 year old decided to try to catch the suspects. Both admitted they recently used cocaine and armed themselves with .40 caliber semi-automatic handguns after believing they saw flashlights in the vicinity of their marijuana grow. The two men hid in one of the marijuana greenhouses on the property hoping to surprise the people trying to rip them off. After approximately one hour the men thought they saw flashlights approaching them so they exited the greenhouse. In an effort to catch the intruders, the 31 year old male shot at them and stated the intruders returned fire. The 18 year old male was accidentally shot by the 31 year old male, during the gunfire exchange. The 18 year old male was shot in the chest and shoulder. There is no evidence the 18 year old fired his weapon and he denied firing his weapon.

After accidentally shooting the 18 year old male, the 31 year old male called 911 and drove him in his 2004 black Cadillac Escalade to the hospital.

The 31 year old male was asked by detectives if he caught the people stealing from his marijuana garden, what he would do to them. The male told detectives he intended to “Murder”, them and not tell authorities.

During the search of the crime scene, detectives and deputies located over an ounce of suspected cocaine, 374 large marijuana plants ranging in size from 9’ tall to 12’ tall, and approximately 4’ to 5’ wide.

Detectives are continuing to investigate the case. They processed the Cadillac today and located numerous bullet strikes in it. Detectives have been consulting the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office and will be sending the case to the District Attorney requesting charges of cultivation and possession of marijuana for sale, discharging a firearm in a negligent fashion causing great bodily injury, possession of a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance for sale against the 31 year old male.

Detectives have been unable to confirm whether intruders were on property prior to the shooting as originally reported. The 18 year old male is continuing to recover from his injuries.

Previously:



SCSO: Fake DEA Agents Try to Ripoff Growers, 5 Arrests Made

Kym Kemp / Friday, Oct. 3 @ 1:10 p.m. / Crime ,  marijuana

Shasta County Sheriff’s Office press release:

Thursday afternoon at approximately 1539 hours, Shasta County Sheriff’s Deputies received a call of shots fired in the area of Iron Mountain Road and Matheson Road just north of Keswick. Deputies arrived in the area and were informed of five subjects in three vehicles who were leaving the area. Deputies were able to stop and detain all three vehicles and all five subjects.

Contact was made with the victims who said the five subjects entered their property through a locked gate by attempting to shoot the lock off and when that failed, by cutting the lock. The five subjects were armed with rifles and approached the victims who were tending a marijuana grow. The suspects told the victims, they were DEA agents and they were under arrest for growing marijuana. The five subjects were wearing clothing with several different law enforcement insignia on them, including several toy badges and a DEA raid jacket. As the subjects approached the victims they were brandishing several weapons and trying to get the victims to turn over their marijuana. During the confrontation several rounds were fired toward the victims. When this occurred the victims retreated into their dwelling and returned with firearms of their own. The suspects retreated to their vehicles and left the area when the victims confronted them.

Inside the three vehicles seven (7) weapons were located. Four (4) rifles, one (1) shotgun, one (1) pistol and one (1) airsoft rifle. The shotgun was later found to have been stolen. Deputies also located methamphetamine in one of the vehicles and three two-way radios that were being used to communicate between the three vehicles. Two of the vehicles were pulling empty trailers. Inside the vehicles deputies located axe’s, machetes, tarps and tie downs. During the questioning of the suspects, deputies confirmed they had gone to the property to forcefully take the marijuana plants.

All five suspects were booked into the Shasta County Jail on the above listed charges, with further charges to be filed through the District Attorney.

SUSPECTS:

Wert, Adam, 34 years old from Redding.

Wert, Angela, 33 years old from Lake Tahoe.

Hunter, Nora, 32 years old from Redding.

Vallodon, Sean, 43 years old from Redding.

Howard, George, 51 years old from Redding.



The Last Hours: Countdown to the Death of Tommy McClain

Kym Kemp / Wednesday, Oct. 1 @ 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.”

Audio

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.

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