Tuesday, September 15, 2015

UPDATED: Hoopa Officer-Involved Shooting; Eureka Homicide

Posted By on Tue, Sep 15, 2015 at 10:06 AM

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2nd UPDATE: The Humboldt County Sheriff's Office has identified the officer who fatally shot a 47-year-old suspect near Weitchpec on Sept. 4 as Sgt. Seth Ruiz.

Ruiz remains on paid administrative leave from the Hoopa tribal police department, pending the outcome of a multi-agency investigation. See the full press release from the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office, which is leading the investigation, below.

1st UPDATE: The Humboldt County Sheriff's Office has identified the man killed in an officer-involved shooting Friday night as 47-year-old Richard Keith Kelley. See the full press release from the sheriff's office below.



PREVIOUSLY:
Local police are investigating a pair of homicides that occurred over the weekend: an officer-involved shooting near Weitchpec on Friday night and the shooting death of a still unidentified male in Eureka’s Hammond Park last night.

The two killings are the eighth and ninth recorded in Humboldt County so far this year, and build on a homicide spike that has Humboldt County facing it’s most grisly three-year span in decades, with 36 killings since the beginning of 2013. The county is on pace to record 13 homicides this year alone after a record 16 in 2014.

On Friday, Hoopa Tribal Police received a report of a man shot in the leg during an argument in front of the local grocery store. A short time later, at about 8:30 p.m., a tribal officer spotted a suspect in the shooting riding his motorcycle and a pursuit began when the suspect fled north on State Route 96. Near Weitchpec, the suspect crashed his motorcycle and, according Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Wayne Hanson, immediately opened fire on the pursuing officer. The tribal officer returned fire, killing the suspect. The officer, who was unhurt in the exchange and has been placed on administrative leave, has not yet been publicly identified and the suspect’s identity is being withheld until his family can be notified of his death.

The shooting is being investigated by the multi-agency Humboldt County Critical Incident Response Team.

On Saturday night, Eureka police responded to a call of shots fired in Hammond Park, which sits at the corner of 14 and E streets. When they arrived, officers found an unresponsive male with a gunshot wound who was later pronounced dead at a local hospital. EPD believes there was a dispute between some “young males” at the park that may have led to the shooting. Police are withholding the victim’s identity until his family can be notified of his death.

EPD asks anyone with information about the shooting to call 441-4032.

Find the full press release from EPD below and, for more information about Humboldt’s recent homicide spike, read past Journal coverage here.

From EPD:

On September 5, 2015 just after 10:00 p.m., officers from the Eureka Police Department responded to a report of shots fired at a Hammond Park, located at 14th and E Streets. Upon arrival, officers found an unresponsive male with a gunshot wound. The victim was transported to a local hospital where he was later pronounced deceased.

Early reports indicate that some sort of dispute may have erupted between several young males who had gathered in or near Hammond Park just prior to the shooting.

Detectives and Evidence Technicians responded and are in the process of investigating this homicide.

Anyone with information concerning this incident should call or come to the Eureka Police Department. The number for Criminal Investigations Section is (707) 441-4032.  


From the sheriff's office:
On Friday, September 04, 2015 at about 7:30 p.m. Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office Deputies contacted a 39 year old male gunshot victim in front of the Rays Food Place in Hoopa. The victim told the deputies he was shot in the leg by 27 year old, Richard Keith Kelley. The victim said he confronted Kelley, because Kelley was driving a vehicle that belonged to him. The victim said after Kelley shot him he stole his motorcycle that the victim had driven to Rays Food Place. The victim’s gunshot wound was not life threating.
At about 8:30 p.m. a Hoopa Tribal Police Department Officer saw the suspect and stolen motorcycle traveling north bound on Highway 96, in the Hoopa area. The Officer then attempted a felony traffic enforcement stop on the motorcycle, but the driver refused to pull over. The Officer then pursed the motorcycle northbound on Highway 96 until it reached the Weitchpec Bridge in Weitchpec. The driver of the motorcycle then lost control of the motorcycle and crashed on Highway 96 just north of the Highway 169 intersection.
The driver of the motorcycle later identified as Richard Keith Kelley then immediately started firing multiple gunshots at the officer. Some of the bullets fired by Kelley struck the officers patrol vehicle. The officer then fired gunshots towards Kelley with his duty weapon in self-defense of his life. Kelley was struck by rounds fired by the Tribal Police Officer and was later pronounced deceased at the scene by medical personnel. The Tribal Officer was not injured in the exchange of gunshots.
Humboldt County Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT) was activated and responded to the scene investigate the officer involved shooting. Members of the CIRT who responded included the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office, Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office, Humboldt State University Police Department, Eureka Police Department and the Fortuna Police Department.
The Tribal Police Department Officer has been placed on paid Administrative leave until CIRT completes their investigation. An autopsy has been scheduled for Kelley on Friday, September 18, 2015 in Eureka.
Anyone with information for the Sheriff’s Office regarding this case or related criminal activity is encouraged to call the Sheriff’s Office at 707-445-7251 or the Sheriff’s Office Crime Tip line at 707-268-2539.
The following is a press release from EPD:

On 09/05/2015, at approximately 10:06 PM, Eureka Police Department officers responded to a report of shots fired at Hammond Park (14th and E Streets). Upon arrival, officers located an unconscious male with a gunshot wound near the park’s basketball courts. The victim, 18-year-old Dax Edward Brown, was transported to a local hospital where he was later pronounced deceased.

Preliminary investigation indicates the homicide was gang-involved and followed a dispute between multiple young males who had gathered at or near the park just prior to the shooting.

EPD detectives and evidence technicians are still in the process of actively investigating this homicide and processing evidence that was collected at the scene. Multiple witnesses have been identified and interviewed, and several investigative leads have been developed.

Anyone with credible information concerning this incident is asked to contact the Eureka Police Department. The number for the Criminal Investigations Section is (707) 441-4032.  

From the Sheriff's Office:

On Friday, September 11, 2015 an autopsy was performed by a forensic pathologist and it was determined that Richard Kelly died from a gunshot wound to his body. The name of the officer involved in this critical incident is Sergeant Seth Ruiz of the Hoopa Valley Tribal Police Department. Sergeant Ruiz has worked for the Hoopa Tribal Police Department for approximately 7 years. Sergeant Ruiz remains on paid administrative leave while the Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT) conducts their investigation.

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