[UPDATE Monday:] Schoolchildren on Outing in the Manila Sand Dunes Forced to Huddle Under a Tree as Bullets Struck Nearby, Says Parent
Last Thursday, after shots rang out near a group of schoolchildren getting ready for a lantern walk at the Humboldt Coastal Nature Center in Manila west of Eureka, frightened parents and kids were forced to search for shelter, multiple 911 calls were sent, and the event was eventually canceled.
Allegra Brucker, a mother and business owner whose children attend the Coastal Grove Charter School, said that on Thursday around 5 p.m. she, her husband, and children pulled up in their minivan into the parking lot near the Nature Center and started to exit their vehicle when she heard, “Pop, pop, pop.” Brucker said she saw flashes from across Hwy 255. “I thought it was fireworks,” she said.
“That’s gunshots,” her husband said.
Another father was on the sand dune yelling that someone was shooting, explained Brucker describing the chaotic scene.
“Most of the kindergarten class,” Brucker said, were “huddled under [a] tree. Everyone…started to scatter.” Later, she said, one of the other parents told her “they could hear bullets hitting the tree that the kids had been in.”
“Call 911. Get back in the car,” Brucker said her husband told her. She and her children crouched below the windows while her husband and others searched for where the shots were coming from. “My older son was pretty freaked out,” Brucker explained.
According to Sgt Greg Allen of the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office, “We got the first call around 5:02 p.m.” Then, he said, the dispatch center received reports from “multiple callers saying they heard about 8 to 10 shots.”
The Sheriff’s deputies arrived on the scene shortly afterward. No further shots were heard. Allen said the shooter wasn’t located. The school event was canceled.
Brucker’s husband attempted to locate the shooter that night. He said a couple of the neighbors helped him narrow down roughly where the shooter came from. But he wasn’t able to locate the culprit.
The next day he came back looking for evidence. He found a trailer with what he called fresh bullet holes in a direct line from where the shots appeared to be coming from to the Nature Center.He added, “[T]here are roughly 14 smaller caliber bullet holes and 6 larger caliber holes in the front of this trailer…The bullet holes do not look like they are old. The metal and fiberglass is ripped fresh. The metal is gleaning. No fading, molding, or moss growing as well.”
He wrote us that some of the neighbors told him that some of the residents shoot in the air or fire “intimidation shots” at each other occasionally.This may have just been a careless shooter not a deliberate attempt to hurt anyone, agreed Brucker who said she didn’t think about the recent shootings at a music event and at a church when the shots were fired. “I didn’t really go to that place until later,” she explained. “I never thought that someone was purposefully shooting at us though I think it went through my husband’s mind.
Whether intentional or not, she is upset. “That is frightening that we should have to deal with that…This was a school function. There was a bunch of kids and bullets flying. It was not a good scene.”
The red marker shows where the Nature Center is located. The parking lot is the asphalt area to the east. Between the parking lot and the Nature Center to the northwest is where the children were huddled beneath the tree while the shots reportedly flew overhead.
UPDATE Monday: Press release from the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office:
Starting at about 5:00 PM on Thursday, 11/09/17, dispatch received four 911 calls regarding “Shots heard” in the area of Friends of the Dunes on Stamps Lane in Manila. Deputies responded and contacted numerous concerned citizens who were starting to arrive for the annual “Lantern Walk” through the dunes. Several individuals said they heard bullets “whizzing” over their heads and a few individuals said one or two bullets struck a nearby tree where they were standing in the parking lot. One individual said she saw a muzzle flash coming from across HWY 255.
The general consensus was that they heard three to four volleys of gunshots for a total of ten to fifteen rounds. One individual said the gunshots sounded like .22 rounds. Deputies spoke with the coordinator of the event who said everyone “sheltered in place” when they began hearing the gunshots. The coordinator canceled the event.
Deputies checked the area extensively for any suspicious subjects. No one was located. Deputies spoke with three to four individuals who reside on Peninsula Drive who indicated they heard the gunshots and they agreed with the above individual’s assessment of shots heard.
Deputies checked the area on foot for any evidence, including spent rounds, but with negative results. Deputies returned to Friends of the Dunes and updated the coordinator with this information.