One Arrested, One At Large After Burglary Suspects Located by CHP Near Weott

Kym Kemp / Sunday, Jan. 4 @ 7:21 p.m. /  Crime

A suspect in a burglary is on the run near Weott in Southern Humboldt after a California Highway Patrol officer spotted a stolen vehicle containing two suspects about 3:20 p.m.

Sgt Timothy Willock of the CHP said, the two suspects from a burglary incident earlier today had been headed east from the Avenue of the Giants towards Hwy 101 when they stopped at the California Department of Forestry station in Weott. They were pulled over and “almost out of gas” when the officer made contact, Willock said. The passenger of the stolen vehicle, Willock said, took “foot bail”—he escaped and managed to avoid detection. 

The driver was held at gunpoint by the CHP officer until backup arrived. A helicopter, one Humboldt County Sheriff’s deputy and two CHP officers attempted to locate the passenger for approximately an hour but the man avoided detection.

The driver was arrested and sent to jail. Willock said that law enforcement has an id on the passenger. Willock promised to provide it by tomorrow but he didn’t have the information with him when reached for this interview. He did have a description though.

Please be on the lookout for a slender, white male, approximately 5‘7” and in his mid thirties. He is wearing blue or black jeans with a black Carhartt type jacket. Anyone with any information should contact the California Highway Patrol at 268 2000 or call 911.

DUI Arrests Down This Holiday Season Compared to Last Year

Kym Kemp / Friday, Jan. 2 @ 7:13 a.m. /  News

Fortuna Police Department press release:

The 2014/15 Winter Holiday DUI Mobilization crackdown on drinking drivers has ended and resulted in a significant number of DUI arrests from the Sobriety Checkpoints, Special Saturation Patrols and routine patrol in the Humboldt County “Avoid the 8” DUI Campaign for the past 21 days.

From 12:01 AM Friday December 12th, through Midnight Thursday January 1, 2014 officers representing 8 county law enforcement agencies have arrested 60 (eight in the last 24 hours) individuals for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In 2013/14 77 DUI arrests occurred during the 20 Day holiday campaign.

These numbers are in comparison to last year’s totals during the holiday period. Law enforcement officials will be conducting more Avoid DUI operations throughout the county and region next during Super Bowl Sunday in February and then again for local St Patrick’s Day Festivities in March. Police and the CHP encourage all motorists to help law enforcement every day: Report Drunk Drivers – Call 9-1-1 anytime you encounter an impaired driver.

DUI Checkpoints, along with regularly scheduled high visibility DUI enforcement, are proven strategies with the goal of removing impaired drivers from the road and heightening awareness of the dangers of driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), sobriety checkpoint programs can yield considerable cost savings: $6 for every $1 spent. Multiple DUI Campaigns are planned in 2015.

Funding for this program was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Well-Known Artist Helps Nab Suspected Burglar on New Year’s Day

Kym Kemp / Thursday, Jan. 1 @ 5:10 p.m. /  Crime

Officer Leonard La France and his K9 partner, Vex, after helping catch a suspect in burglary this morning. [Photo by Elizabeth Berrien.]

A Henderson Center woman and well-known wire artist, Elizabeth Berrien, told the Outpost that she began her New Year “fighting crime.” A burglar attempted to break into her home about 3:40 this morning but quick thinking (the North Coast Journal recently explored whether she is the smartest person in Humboldt) led to an arrest of a man suspected of not only trying to enter her home but also the home of another couple on D Street about an hour earlier.

While sleeping, Elizabeth Berrien heard her doorbell ring. “I figured it was a drunk,” she said. Then she added dryly, “I was remotely curious if it was a drunk I knew… .” Getting up, she put on her robe and she headed downstairs slowly. “I took my time getting to the door,” she said. She didn’t open it or indicate that she was home but, looking through the window, she saw what she described as a “skinny dude” headed down the street.

She did a few things without turning on the lights and was almost ready to go back to bed when she thought she heard someone moving around outside. She called 911 as she quietly walked upstairs. (Scanner traffic shows this occurred at approximately 3:51 a.m.) There, away from immediate harm, she continued talking to the operator. “It felt like I talked to her forever,” Berrien said. She continued to hear noises and even saw someone with a flashlight enter into her detached garage as she spoke to the operator. She was relieved when she was told that officers were at her home.

Eureka Police Officers, including a K9 unit had already been investigating an attempted break in a couple blocks away arrived quickly at her home. Vex, a Belgian Malinois police dog, and his handler, Officer Leonard La France, (See EPD photo left) had been tracking the attempted burglar from that case when, according to Captain Steve Watson, the 911 call from Berrien came in. The address was in the direction of the scent trail Vex had been following.

Multiple officers responded to Berrien’s home. A suspect was spotted exiting the backyard with a flashlight. The officers, Watson said, “…had the impression he would have run without the K9.” Scanner traffic indicates that the man was detained at 3:59 a.m.

Nicholas Paul Boswell, 34 years old, (see mugshot right) formerly of Louisiana but recently arrested several times in Eureka for various crimes was taken into custody and booked. 

Watson said in November, Boswell had been arrested by Officer Leornard La France and his K9 partner, Vex, when he had been found concealed in someone’s backyard.

At Berrien’s home, Boswell is suspected of having removed a porch light, a screen from a window and forced entry into her garage. Berrien said that when she went with the officers to the garage she could tell that someone had moved some of her belongings around.

In Boswell’s possession at the time of arrest were two different garage door openers (neither were Berrien’s) as well as other items. He was booked for Burglary, Attempted Burglary, Prowling and Possession of Burglary Tools.

After Boswell’s arrest, Berrien said, “From that point on, it was kind of fun… .” Berrien talked with the officers and learned that “the burglar had taken off the glass dome around the light for a little more privacy [and the burglar] wasn’t wearing gloves so they got to collect prints.” 

Berrien said, “I am determined to not start the New Year as a victim. I feel like someone who has successfully handled the challenge of an attempted home invasion.” Berrien said that she had already planned to take a refresher course in martial arts. (She used to do Jiu-jitsu.)  She also stated, “I’m going to put my shotgun together and go out and get more practice with it and just get more comfortable.”

Captain Steve Watson believes, though he has not checked the statistics yet, that “residential burglaries are on the rise.” He worries that the perceived increase in crime may lead to violence. “We don’t want to have a frightened resident [accidentally] firing a weapon on police officers… There is a great deal of responsibility that comes with residents arming themselves. There may be officers outside that are trying to help them.” He worries that officers could get injured or killed. “That is why communication with dispatch is really important,” he explained. “We don’t want any tragedies to occur.” 

Watson sympathizes with residents. An increase in crime, he said, can’t help but make people “fed up and scared.”

When you break into a person’s house that is a deep violation [and] the potential for violence is great,” he explained.

Burglars may end up shot. “Probably it’s just a matter of time before someone is going to break into the wrong house at the wrong time,” Watson said. 

He recommends that if someone believes a burglar is trying to enter their home while they are there, they should call 911, turn on lights, go to a “safe room and arm themselves” if possible, and maybe holler a warning if appropriate.  ”[Burglars] are trying to determine if the house is unoccupied,” he said. “Show them [your home] is not going to be an easy target.”

He also suggests taking some proactive measures. He recommends residents check if there is “adequate lighting where you park vehicles” and around the home. If the home is going to be empty, have someone collect newspapers and leave some lights as well as a radio on.

Watson also recommends supporting or forming a neighborhood watch. “Extra eyes can be really important,” he said in reducing burglaries and other crimes.

As for Berrien, she said, “I was somewhat prepared, but I wasn’t as prepared as I will be if it ever happens again.”

She has some advice for those worried about crime in their neighborhoods. She urges women especially to take self-defense courses. “Don’t panic,” she said, “but let’s get better prepared.”

Video showing one of Elizabeth Berrien’s wire sculptures.

2015 Shakes off 2014: 5.1 Earthquake!

Kym Kemp / Thursday, Jan. 1 @ 7:45 a.m. /  Earthquake

How many felt the 5.1 earthquake that struck about 70 miles west of Ferndale at 4:16 a.m. today?

The quake was about 1.6 miles deep. 

Oddly enough, last year we had a decent sized earthquake on New Year’s day, too.

Yes, That Was An Earthquake

Note: Fun fact, last year’s biggest quake around here was 6.9. 

Large Earthquake in Eureka Just Now

Vehicle Fire One Mile Up Alderpoint Road

Kym Kemp / Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2014 @ 8:56 p.m. /  News

UPDATE: According to a neighbor the vehicle was parked about three miles east of Garberville.


Original post: According to CHP dispatch, as of 8:45 p.m. a vehicle is on fire one mile east of Garberville up the Alderpoint Road. Dispatch is saying that the vehicle is “fully engulfed.”

[Hwy 36 Now Open] Power Lines Cause Vegetation Fire, Closes Hwy 36

Kym Kemp / Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2014 @ 6:49 p.m. /  News

UPDATE 8:11 p.m.: Hwy 36 is now open

UPDATE 7:50 p.m.: Both Lanes now open near the freeway. The road is still closed in the Hydesville area.

UPDATE 7:45 p.m.: PG&E is now saying that over 600 customers are without power. Below is an updated map.


Original post:Bad night for Hwy 36 residents. Downed power lines have started a vegetation fire on Hwy 36 east of Fisher Road in the Hydesville area. As of 6:45 p.m., scanner traffic indicates that crews are shutting down Hwy 36 at Yager Creek in both directions. CHP dispatch indicates that the estimated time of closure is one hour.

PG&E is showing about 50-60 customers without power.  Scanner traffic indicates it will be about 7:20 p.m. before PG&E can get to the downed lines.  One Carlotta reader reported seeing a “huge blue flash” west of her home. Power flickered there but did not go out. 

Crews on the scene are saying the fire is only about 5’ x 5’. Chatter on the scanner indicates the fire is “no big threat.” 

Also a mudslide has reportedly impacted one lane of 36 one half mile east of Hwy 101.

PG&E, Cal Fire and Caltrans are all responding. Volunteer fire crews are on the scene also.

The yellow and green areas indicate where customers are without power. [Map from PG&E]


Tourney Lifts Ban on ‘I Can’t Breathe’ Shirts, Boys’ Coach Skips Game in Protest

Kym Kemp / Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2014 @ 10:49 a.m. /  News

Members of Mendocino High School’s girls varsity basketball team, wearing the T-shirts that got them banned from a three-day basketball tournament in Fort Bragg, hold up signs cheering on the boys’ varsity team, which was allowed to play after 9 of 10 of the athletes agreed not to wear the shirts during warmups. [Photos provided by MendocinoSportsPlus.]

Wearing the “I Can’t Breathe” T-shirts that got them banned from a local tournament, some of the Mendocino High School varsity girls basketball team walked into the Fort Bragg gym yesterday to cheer on the boys’ team. When they approached the door, they didn’t know whether they would be barred from entering. But by the time they went to bed last night, they had not only attended the game wearing their shirts, they knew the ban had been lifted — too late for them to play but soon enough to allow the boys’ team to wear the shirts today in their pre-game warm-up.

The student athletes who spoke to the Lost Coast Outpost, including 16-year-old Connor Woods, were delighted about the decision. Woods is part of Mendocino High’s varsity boys team, but he chose not to play if it meant not wearing the controversial shirt, which refers to the dying words of Eric Garnera black man who died while being arrested in New York. His teammates, however, agreed with the ban and participated in the tournament. Now, the ban’s reversal meant that he can stick to his principles and still get to play today.

In recent months, the death of young black men such as Garner, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown and others has ignited nationwide protests against racial profiling and police killings of unarmed black men. Mendocino team members say they wanted to bring attention to social injustice, but Fort Bragg administrators said they were worried the statement would ignite passions in a town recently rocked by the shooting death of a popular sheriff’s deputy.

Jin Jackson, 16-year-old co-captain of the Mendocino Cardinals girls team, said that earlier this month some varsity boys asked if the girls wanted to wear the T-shirts during warm ups. The girls team agreed, Jackson explained, because “in a small community like ours, we can still promote awareness of national issues such as police brutality.”

The girls’ and boys’ teams both first wore their T-shirts on December 16. “The initial reaction was nothing,” Woods said. “Nobody said anything at the game. No parents or viewers seemed to have any problem with it.”

The boys didn’t wear the T-shirts after that, Woods said, but the girls stuck with it. “They wore the shirts for the next three games,” Woods recalled. 

The teams had been slated to play in the three-day tournament hosted by Fort Bragg High School. The students were heartbroken by the school’s original decision to ban them for wearing the shirts. Eventually, nine teammates from the boys team were allowed to play after agreeing not to wear the shirts. 

As the controversy swelled, the Mendocino students were told that individuals wearing the T-shirts or carrying political signs to the the tournament would be barred. 

People took [the slogan] to mean we do not support police in general,” Woods said. Some commenters on social media sites even argued that the students were literally supporting the murder of cops. Woods explained that wasn’t the point at all. “Obviously, not all police officers have a part in police brutality,” he said. “The shirts are trying to convey that this is a problem that needs to be addressed in this nation… . It isn’t a problem in our county though.” 

Woods’ grandfather was a California Highway Patrol Officer. His father, Marc Woods, said that it was particularly unpleasant to have people saying the students supported killing law enforcement officers. “These kids do not support the killing of cops,” he stated.

Connor Woods said one worst parts of this controversy was the comments in social media arguing that the kids didn’t know what they were protesting about and shouldn’t be allowed to continue. He was frustrated that these people wanted to stifle the voices of the student athletes. “Most were educated,” he stated. “And regardless of if you are educated on the subject or not, you have the right to voice your opinion.”

Some commenters asked, he said, what if other teams wanted to wear opposing T-shirts, onees that said something like “Breathe easy. Don’t resist arrest.” Woods said, “I would have loved to have seen people with that shirt. To me that is perfect. That is exactly what is my side.”

Anybody should be able to voice their opinion, he said. 

Even though the two varsity teams made different choices and there were different opinions within the teams, the divisions didn’t cause hard feelings, said Emily Symons, one of Mendocino Cardinals student athletes. She explained, “I have twin brother on the varsity school team. I feel that although the two teams chose to go in different directions, there is a lot of support coming from both sides for each other.”

Woods agreed. “We’re a pretty tightly bonded team,” he said. “When I was told that I was the only boy that was sitting out, I was disappointed, but I respected the decisions of my teammates.” He still planned to attend the games as a spectator to cheer on his fellow athletes. “When I was told that the girls would be sitting out of the tournament too, it was good to know that I had other teammates there to stand with,” he said. 

On Monday, the boys’ team was scheduled to play in the morning. The girls’ team decided to mount a protest outside the tournament.

Kierra Poehlmann, one of the girls team co-captains explained, “I think Jin, Emily and myself… we love basketball so much and we miss playing, but all our lives we were told that there were bigger things than sports. And this was an opportunity to show that we understood that.”

As the protesters arrived, they could see private guards (from Lear Security, famous for their work removing marijuana gardens).

Private security guards stand outside the Fort Bragg basketball tournament on Monday.

The teammates were joined by what they estimated was between 70 and 100 protesters.

Some of the protesters carried signs.

According to Kierra Poehlmann, “After we demonstrated, Jin and I said some of us were going to go in. I went in with a group to the gym.” Poehlmann said that the security guards didn’t say anything.

Part of the reason might be the attorney who threatened to slap tournament hosts with a lawsuit. “I contacted the ACLU,” said Mark Woods, Connor’s father. At their recommendation, he said he retained an attorney who was ready to file a restraining order against the Fort Bragg Unified School District.

Protesters joined the Mendocino Girls Varsity Team in cheering on the boys team as well as displaying “I Can’t breathe” signs.

By evening, the two teams were told that the ban on wearing the T-shirts during warm-up had been rescinded. Though it was too late for the girls team to play in the tournament, the boys team could wear the shirts. Connor Woods was delighted. He said he had been very disappointed at not being able to play and still wear the shirts. “My mom was coming to town and she’d never seen me play basketball… . The third game is on the day of my birthday.”

His teammate Sean Symonds said he was also very pleased. Sean, whose twin sister Emily plays for the girls basketball team said, “At first when they kicked us out of the tournament, I was really bummed because our team has been waiting to play all year.” However, he said, after the boys team agreed not to wear the warm-up shirts, he was glad to play but disappointed that the team wouldn’t be able to participate in the protest. “Now that we can wear the shirts, we will,” he stated.

The team later received an email from their coach, Jim Young, saying he wouldn’t allow the team to wear the shirts in the pre-game warmup. However, Young’s email was followed by another from the Mendocino High School administrators stating that the shirts would be allowed. Young responded with another email saying that he would not be coaching the game, and the junior varsity coach would step in. One student athlete described this as a roller coaster of emotions.

Late yesterday evening, as it became apparent that the student athletes would be able to wear the “I Can’t breathe” shirts during warm-ups, Connor Woods talked about today’s game. “I will be wearing the shirt, and I’m confident that others on the team will as well.” He realized his T-shirt was dirty and said he needed to conclude the interview.

I’ve got some laundry to do!” he said.

This morning the Mendocino boys varsity basketball team played without their coach and without warming up in the “I Can’t Breathe” T-shirts.

Reached during the Mendocino game, Marc Woods, Connor’s father said, “The boys voted not to wear the shirts. Last night everyone was going to do it this. Today it changed. I’m not sure why.” However, he said, Connor was able to play as he didn’t have to make the pledge not to wear the shirts.

Mendocino Boys Varsity Team during a game earlier this year.

Previously:  I Can’t Breathe: Mendocino Team Banned From Tournament for Wearing Controversial T-shirts


Note: MendocinoSportsPlus is providing continuing coverage of this story.