Crime

Monday, April 17, 2017

Witnesses Sought in Fatal Arcata Stabbing

Posted By on Mon, Apr 17, 2017 at 3:54 PM

apd.jpg
The Arcata Police Department is looking to interview everyone who attended the house party where a 19-year-old Humboldt State University student was fatally stabbed early Saturday morning.

“Sometimes people are witnesses without really knowing they were witnesses, so we’re doing our best to reach out to and speak to everyone,” said Arcata Police Chief Tom Chapman. "We’re trying to track those people down to see what they saw and what they didn’t see.”

Police responded to a house in the 1100 block of Spear Avenue at about 3 a.m. to find David Josiah Lawson bleeding from multiple stab wounds. Lawson later died at a local hospital.

Chapman said at least 50 people were still at the party when police arrived, and that police have already interviewed at least 20 witnesses, with many more interviews scheduled.

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Saturday, April 15, 2017

HSU Student Fatally Stabbed Amid House Party Fist Fight

Posted By on Sat, Apr 15, 2017 at 1:30 PM

FILE
  • File
A stabbing in Arcata early this morning left a 19-year-old Humboldt State University student dead.

Details are scant at this point, but the university issued a press release this morning reporting that the stabbing occurred off campus and is being investigated by the Arcata Police Department, which has a suspect in custody but is still actively investigating.

According to APD Chief Tom Chapman, the stabbing occurred at about 3 a.m. during a fist fight that broke out at a house party. Chapman said in a text message to the Journal that the suspect is not an HSU student but stressed that detectives are still working to track down and interview witnesses.

The victim's name is being withheld until his or her family can be notified and Chapman said APD isn't releasing the suspect's name until additional witnesses can be interviewed.

The university is providing counseling and support services to grieving students (more info, including phone numbers, in the press release copied below). HSU President Lisa Rossbacher also sent out a campuswide email notifying students, faculty and staff of the killing.

“I have no words to adequately describe the sorrow of this loss,” she wrote. “This tragedy is heartbreaking for all of us, and most especially the family and friends of the victim. Our thoughts are with them and we extend our condolences.”

The killing is Humboldt County's fourth homicide of 2017. The county tallied a record 22 last year.

From APD:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ONE DEAD AFTER FIGHT AT ARCATA HOUSE PARTY
On April 15th, 2017 at approximately 3:00 am, officers from the Arcata Police Department responded to the 1100 Block of Spear Ave on the report of a stabbing.

When officers arrived, they found a male victim bleeding from multiple stab wounds. Officers immediately began life saving efforts. The man was eventually transported to Mad River Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.

The assault occurred as the result of an argument at the party.

The identity of the deceased, a 19-year-old male HSU student, will not be released until appropriate notifications have been made.

A 23 year old McKinleyville resident, has been taken into custody related to the incident.

The APD is actively investigating and asks for anyone with information about this incident to call the Arcata Police Department at 822-2428.

From HSU:

A 19-year-old Humboldt State University student was stabbed and killed last night, and Arcata Police have detained a suspect.

The name of the student is being withheld while family is being notified.

The incident occurred at an off-campus location. The investigation is being led by Arcata Police Department, with support from the University Police Department.

HSU officials are reaching out to the family of the student, and will be offering counseling and other support for friends, faculty, and others on campus who knew him.

Students who are in need of support during this time are encouraged to contact the Dean of Students office at 707.826.3504 or visit that office in Siemens Hall 211. For assistance any time, students can contact Counseling & Psychological services at 707.826.3236. Staff or faculty seeking additional support may utilize the Employee Assistance Program at 707.443.7358.

Letter from Rossbacher:

Dear University Community:

I am deeply saddened to share news with you that one of our students has died after a stabbing last night. I have no words to adequately describe the sorrow of this loss. This tragedy is heartbreaking for all of us, and most especially the family and friends of the victim. Our thoughts are with them and we extend our condolences.

We are reaching out to provide support and counseling to members of our University community. We will also be in contact and offering support to family members.

The student’s name is currently confidential while his family is being notified. Because the incident occurred off campus, the investigation is being led by the Arcata Police Department with significant assistance from University Police.

For assistance any time, students can contact Counseling & Psychological Services at 707.826.3236. Staff or faculty seeking additional support may utilize the Employee Assistance Program at 707.443.7358.

Sincerely,
Lisa A. Rossbacher, Ph.D.
President


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Saturday, April 1, 2017

Almost 50 Guns Surrendered in Eureka Buy Back

Posted By on Sat, Apr 1, 2017 at 10:42 AM

Firearms seized at the scene of a methamphetamine bust last year. - COURTESY OF EPD
  • Courtesy of EPD
  • Firearms seized at the scene of a methamphetamine bust last year.
The Eureka Police Department took almost 50 guns off the streets last weekend in a two-day buy back program that gave people a chance to surrender their firearms, no questions asked.

Capt. Steve Watson said a total of 48 guns — 26 handguns, 12 shotguns and 10 rifles — were turned in during the event, which EPD is thinking about replicating in the future. Watson said he’ll be briefing the Eureka City Council on the program at Tuesday’s meeting.

The proactive approach to getting guns off Eureka’s streets comes as EPD is encountering firearms at a staggering rate. As a Journal cover story last year revealed, EPD was seizing about six guns per 1,000 city residents, a rate dwarfing those of more violent cities like Chicago, Oakland or Baltimore.

Last weekend’s buy-back program — which saw the department hand out more than $1,500 in gift cards to a couple of dozen people in exchange for their firearms — was designed to combat that, and help get guns off the street. No public funds were spent in the buy back, Watson said, as the gift cards were made possible by a $1,000 donation from Redwood Capital Bank, $500 from the Southwest Rotary of Eureka and a few hundred dollars from the Eureka Neighborhood Watch group.

The buy-back also came on the heels of EPD’s Project Safe Eureka Expo, a two-day event designed to promote gun safety and security at the Bayshore Mall. As also reported on our “Strapped” cover story last year, Eureka sees a very high rate of firearm thefts, which EPD Chief Andy Mills believes contributes greatly to the high rates at which his officers encounter guns in the hands of people who can’t legally possess them.

For more on the buy back, tune in to Tuesday’s Eureka City Council meeting, which will conclude with Watson’s presentation.



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Thursday, March 30, 2017

UPDATE: Man Killed in Alderpoint Stabbing Identified

Posted By on Thu, Mar 30, 2017 at 11:20 AM

Humboldt County Sheriff's Office - FILE
  • FILE
  • Humboldt County Sheriff's Office
UPDATE: The sheriff’s office identified the man killed in an Alderpoint stabbing this week as Eugene Arnold Minikel, 37, of Redway.

“This investigation is ongoing and no arrests have been made at this time,” the brief news release states.

A woman, whose name has not been released, told officials that she stabbed Minikel because he was physically abusing her.

PREVIOUSLY:
The Humboldt County Sheriff's Office reports that a man is dead after a stabbing in Alderpoint last night. Sheriff's deputies responded to a 911 call from a woman who said she had stabbed her boyfriend because he was hitting her. The man was pronounced deceased shortly after deputies and medical aid arrived on scene.

Lt. Dennis Young says the woman was interviewed but not taken into custody. The case is currently under investigation. No names have been released.

The killing is Humboldt County's third homicide of 2017 but the first that didn't involve a car crash. Last year, a record 22 homicides were recorded in the county.

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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Puppy Plucked From Humboldt Bay to be Adopted by Rescuer

Posted By on Tue, Mar 14, 2017 at 1:17 PM

This puppy was plucked out of Humboldt Bay after being dropped from the Samoa Bridge by an unknown suspect. She is set to be adopted by one of the fishing crew members who helped rescue her. - COURTESY OF THE SHERIFF'S OFFICE
  • Courtesy of the Sheriff's Office
  • This puppy was plucked out of Humboldt Bay after being dropped from the Samoa Bridge by an unknown suspect. She is set to be adopted by one of the fishing crew members who helped rescue her.

One of the fishermen who rescued a puppy thrown off of the Samoa Bridge is set to adopt her.

The Humboldt County Sheriff's Office is currently looking for the man who dropped the young dog off the bridge's middle span around 9:30 a.m. on Monday. The suspect is described as a white male, late teens to early 20s, wearing a red-brimmed baseball hat with yellow writing. He fled the area on a black and white bike.

The puppy was rescued by a fishing crew that witnessed the incident and boated over to help the dog.

Anyone with information is asked to call the sheriff's office.

Press release from the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office:
On Monday, March 13, 2017, at approximately 0930 hours, the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office received a report that someone had dropped a puppy off the middle span of the Samoa Bridge. A fishing crew on a boat witnessed the incident and was able to rescue the puppy from the water. An Animal Control Officer responded to investigate, and took custody of the puppy.

The female puppy was transported by the Officer to a local veterinarian and is in good condition. The puppy is currently at the Humboldt County Animal Shelter and will soon be adopted out to one of the persons who rescued her.

The suspect is described as a white male adult, late teens early 20’s, wearing a black baseball hat with a red brim with yellow writing and a white flannel jacket The suspect left the area in an unknown direction riding a black and red bicycle.

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.

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Thursday, March 9, 2017

Fatal Hit and Run in Downtown Eureka

Posted By on Thu, Mar 9, 2017 at 3:54 PM

Shirley Hoyt - FACEBOOK
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  • Shirley Hoyt
Shirley Hoyt, 56, was crossing U.S. 101 at Fourth and S streets at 11:14 a.m. when she was struck by a Toyota pickup driven by Blue Lake resident Larry Nielsen, also 56.

According to a press release from the California Highway Patrol, all other vehicles were stopped at the crosswalk to let Hoyt cross. Nielsen, who was driving at a speed described by witnesses as about 50 miles per hour, according to CHP, passed the stopped traffic and struck Hoyt. He then attempted to flee the scene, but a witness gave chase, pulling in front of Nielsen and stopping him at the intersection of N and Third streets. The witness, who CHP has said is from out of the area, detained Nielsen until officers arrived.

Hoyt was transported to St. Joseph Hospital and later died from her injuries, becoming the county's ninth traffic death of 2017.

Nielsen was also examined and found not to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, although the CHP report states that a medical condition may have been a contributing factor. He was booked into the Humboldt County jail on suspicion of felony hit and run and vehicular manslaughter.

See the release from CHP here.

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Saturday, February 11, 2017

Journal News Editor Wins Freedom of Information Award

Posted By on Sat, Feb 11, 2017 at 10:51 AM

THADEUS GREENSON
  • Thadeus Greenson

The Society of Professional Journalists Northern California officially announced yesterday that Thadeus Greenson, the Journal's news editor, won a James Madison Freedom of Information Award. It's an award Caroline Titus of the Ferndale Enterprise took home in 2016, and the Journal's then staff writer and editor Hank Sims and Emily Gurnon won in 2005.

Greenson is being recognized for his "years long battle with the city of Eureka over the release of police camera footage of an arrest." (That arrest by then Eureka Police Sgt. Adam Laird and the departmental drama that followed it are, coincidentally, the subject of next week's cover story on stands Wednesday.) The end result of Greenson and the Journal's pursuit of the video, in Humboldt County Superior Court and then in the California First District Court of Appeals, was a state precedent-setting opinion that kept the city — and any others in California — from treating police camera footage as confidential officer personnel records.

Particularly in our current climate, with heightened awareness of police misconduct and the potential abuses of power, that ruling in favor of transparency is a win for journalists throughout the state, the public and those police departments working toward trust in the communities they protect. We could not be more proud of Greenson's work on this story and in every issue of the Journal.


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Monday, January 23, 2017

Canine Cop Calls it a Career

Posted By on Mon, Jan 23, 2017 at 1:16 PM

Sgt. Ron Sligh with Zari. - SUBMITTED
  • Submitted
  • Sgt. Ron Sligh with Zari.
Zari, the Arcata Police patrol dog, has retired after eight and a half years of service.

During his career with APD, Zari, a German shepherd who joined the force in 2008, was present for more than 1,000 arrests and assisted in many high-risk situations. In 2013, he located a double murder suspect hiding in the bushes and, that same year, also helped search for homicide suspects in the Samoa Dunes and Petrolia.

The patrol dog was born in the Czech Republic and imported to the United States to train at a company called Witmer Tyson. Most of the company’s dogs are born and trained in Germany or the Czech Republic. Zari is retiring because of old age and APD said it is no longer practical for him to serve.

Matthew O’Donovan, an Arcata Police officer and handler for the retired patrol dog Baron, started a GoFund me page in order to fundraise for another canine. The fundraising goal is $15,000, which will pay for the dog and its training, as well as supplies, including a knife and bullet proof vest.

“The K-9 unit plays a vital role in the department,” the charity page states.

Ginger Campbell, nicknamed by the Arcata Police department as the “fairy dog mother,” helped raise money for Zari, who cost about $20,000 to train and get prepared. In order to fundraise for the dog, Campbell reached out to local newspapers and asked the community for help.

“When I said I would fundraise for another dog,” Campbell said, “I just figured it would be $4,000 or $5,000 but when It was about $20,000, I had to do a lot more.”

When she had close to enough money to afford the dog, APD scrounged up enough money to fill the void.

According to an APD press release, Zari took part in many canine demonstrations at schools and community groups. Campbell thinks this is important because the dog helped bridge gaps between law enforcement and local youth.

Campbell didn’t just raise money to get the dogs, she also had to raise money to pay for bullet and knife proof vests. She said these are important because the dogs will go to any means to protect their police officer.

“Their main job is to protect the police officer,” Campbell said. “They will die for their police officer.”

Zari will live out his retirement in the care of his handler, APD. Sgt. Ron Sligh, and his family.

Arcata Police Service Canine, “Zari” is retiring after eight and a half years of dedicated service to the community. Zari, the K9 partner of Sergeant Ron Sligh, is retiring due to normal age related ailments that make it no longer practical for him to serve. Zari began his service to the City of Arcata in June of 2008 and his official last day was January 13th, 2017. Zari is a sable colored German Shepherd that was born on March 23rd, 2007 in the Czech Republic. He was imported to the United States by the Witmer-Tyson Kennels of Menlo Park, California in June 2008.
Sgt Sligh and Zari attended the basic patrol handler’s course in Newark, California, which culminated in the Police Officers Standard’s in Training (POST) certification. Since attending the basic handlers course, Sgt Sligh and Zari have attended thousands of hours of maintenance training and certified annually to POST Standards.
During Zari’s career he has responded to numerous high risk incidents in the City of Arcata and all over Humboldt County. As part of mutual aid requests from almost all law enforcement agencies in the county, Zari has been a regional asset.  Some of the more notable incidents that Zari has been involved in are; in 2009 he assisted in the apprehension of a home invasion robbery suspect that attempted to flee the scene. Also in 2009, Zari came to the aid of Sgt Sligh in arresting a suspect that was violently resisting arrest and who had assaulted Sgt Sligh. Again in 2009, Sgt Sligh and Zari responded to assist the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office SWAT Team in searching a vehicle that had crashed during a high speed pursuit, near Willow Creek. The suspects in the vehicle had committed an armed robbery and had been shooting at pursuing officers during the pursuit.
In 2013, Zari located a double homicide suspect who was hiding in the bushes. Zari and Sgt Sligh assisted the Humboldt County Sheriff’s SWAT Team in the apprehension of two homicide suspects in the Samoa Dunes. Zari was part of the muti-agency response to search for a homicide suspect in Petrolia. Zari assisted in the apprehension of another homicide suspect. Zari was called in by Humboldt County District Attorney Investigators to search a residence where a vehicular manslaughter suspect was hiding. Zari located the suspect hiding under a bed.
Zari was present on over a thousand arrests during his career. On the vast majority of those arrests the suspects were taken into custody without resisting or attempting to flee. Within in the last month, Sgt Sligh and Zari were able to arrest a felony warrant suspect, who has a history of fleeing, without incident.
Zari and Sgt Sligh conducted many K9 demonstrations over the years for schools and community groups.  Zari has enjoyed interacting with the department’s staff and made a special friendship with Police Services Assistant Bev Bence in the department’s front office.
Zari will be able to enjoy his retirement in the care of the Sligh Family.

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Thursday, December 22, 2016

Is This Criminal Assault?

Posted By on Thu, Dec 22, 2016 at 4:40 PM


It’s been almost four years since the Eureka Police Department and the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office held a rare joint press conference on April 17, 2013 to announce they’d arrest an EPD sergeant on suspicion of assaulting a 14-year-old during an arrest.

Four months earlier, shortly before midnight on Dec. 6, 2012, EPD received a report of a gang fight near Twenty-Thirty Park on Summer Street. The first officer on scene reported no fight but saw a male and a female walking, and noted the male — later identified as a 5-foot-6-inch, 130-pound 14-year-old — was carrying a golf club.

The boy — who later told police he had been drunk at the time, having drank two Four Lokos (a caffeinated malt liquor beverage) — fled when he saw the officer and a foot pursuit ensued. At some point, former EPD Sgt. Adam Laird joined the fray as backup as the kid fled through a backyard and ultimately wound up on California Street. There, the juvenile abruptly stopped running — later telling investigators he didn’t want police to shoot him — and gave up. He was then pushed to the ground by officers.


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Mills: Suspect Pointed Gun at Officer Before Being Shot

Posted By on Thu, Dec 22, 2016 at 2:55 PM

The bullet-riddled Mazda 3 Clayton Lasinski allegedly stole from Sole Savers. - EPD
  • EPD
  • The bullet-riddled Mazda 3 Clayton Lasinski allegedly stole from Sole Savers.

The 26-year-old Garberville man wounded in a Dec. 6 officer-involved shooting pointed his handgun at an officer before police opened fire, Eureka Police Chief Andrew Mills said at a press conference today.

Mills spent about 35 minutes walking media through the traffic stop, foot pursuit and ensuing shooting that transpired over 12 tense minutes shortly before 5 p.m. on Dec. 6 and ended when the wounded suspect, Clayton Lee Lasinski, collapsed to the ground on Fifth Street.

During the pursuit, Mills said officers fired a total of 42 rounds — not 44 as sources previously told the Journal — one of which struck Lasinski in the chest and 25 of which struck the Mazda 3 he was allegedly attempting to flee the scene in. Mills said investigators have determined that 14 bullets hit other objects — walls, vehicles and a fence — and that three remain unaccounted for.

Mills said three of the officers involved — officers Steven Linfoot and Dustin Nantz, and senior detective Ron Harpham — have been psychologically evaluated and cleared to return to duty, with Harpham already back in the field and the other two returning to active duty tomorrow. The fourth officer who fired his weapon during the incident — Abraham Jansen — is away on a previously scheduled vacation and has yet to undergo the psych evaluation, Mills said, offering no timetable for the officer’s return to the field.


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