Thursday, December 18, 2014

2nd UPDATE: CHP Shoots, Kills Suspect Near Willow Creek

Posted By on Thu, Dec 18, 2014 at 12:04 PM

Because of the officer-involved shooting that occurred early this morning, the Klamath-Trinity Joint Unified School District will shutter all its schools tomorrow, according to Superintendent Jon Ray.

“We’re closing because we’ve experienced a tragedy here in our little community, so it’s best for our families to be together,” Ray said, adding that the closure was unplanned but necessary. Schools, he said, will re-open Jan. 5 after the planned winter break.

A California Highway Patrol officer shot and killed a male suspect early this morning after responding to a single car accident on State Route 299 near Willow Creek.

According to a CHP press release, the officer was violently attacked immediately upon his arrival at the crash site, which occurred sometime after 1:35 a.m. The release states the officer was attacked with a “deadly weapon,” but CHP has declined to specify what that was.

“The officer, in fear for his life, discharged his departmentally issued firearm at the suspect,” the release states, adding that the suspect sustained fatal injuries in the exchange and was later pronounced dead at the scene. The officer was transported to a local hospital, where he is in stable condition.

The Lost Coast Outpost has parsed out scanner traffic from the incident, which can be found here.

Humboldt County Deputy Coroner Trevor Enright is currently on scene and was consequently unavailable to comment for this story. The shooting is being investigated by the Humboldt County Critical Incident Response Team, which is made up of officers from a variety of local agencies.

The officer-involved shooting is the second this week, after a Humboldt County sheriff’s deputy fired at an occupied vehicle during a pursuit Monday, injuring an unidentified woman.

See the full CHP press release below:



WILLOW CREEK, Calif. - On Thursday, December 18, 2014, at approximately 1:35 am, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) Humboldt Communications Center received a report of a single vehicle traffic collision on State Route 299 at Blue Jay Lane in the Willow Creek area. A CHP Humboldt Area officer assigned to the Willow Creek Resident Post was called out to handle the traffic collision. Upon the officer’s arrival, the officer was violently attacked by the driver of the vehicle by use of a deadly weapon. The officer, in fear of his life, discharged his departmentally issued firearm at the suspect. The suspect subsequently sustained fatal injuries and was pronounced deceased at the scene. The officer sustained major injuries and was transported by ground ambulance to a nearby hospital for treatment.

The officer is listed as in stable condition. There are no other known suspects outstanding and the CHP believes this to be an isolated incident. The county-wide shooting investigation team has been assigned to investigate this incident. In addition, the CHP’s Northern Division shooting investigation team has been assigned to investigate this incident as an internal administrative investigation.

This is a very tragic event that will have a lasting impact on our community, the CHP Humboldt Area, and the officer and families involved.

Any inquiries into this incident can be directed the California Highway Patrol Humboldt Area office at (707) 822-5981.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Officer-involved Shooting Investigation Continues

Posted By on Tue, Dec 16, 2014 at 4:15 PM

The Humboldt County Critical Incident Response Team is currently investigating an officer-involved shooting in McKinleyville, after a sheriff’s deputy opened fire on a fleeing vehicle occupied by two suspects in McKinleyville last night.

Details are scant at this point, but the sheriff’s office reports that a deputy attempted a traffic stop on a black SUV after learning its registered owner had a felony arrest warrant out. The vehicle fled, and a pursuit ensued until the SUV pulled into a private driveway off the 2300 block of Chapel Road, with the deputy following.

“At this time, the suspect vehicle attempted to drive back out of the driveway toward the deputy’s location, at which time shots were fired by the deputy sheriff,” the press release states.

A female suspect in the SUV suffered a “non-life threatening injury to her hand,” in the exchange and has been transported to an out-of-area hospital for treatment. She remains unidentified, according to the release, and has been uncooperative with law enforcement. The vehicle’s other occupant, identified as 23-year-old Michael Lawrence Barrett, was located near the scene and arrested. He is currently being held on a parole-violation warrant out of Los Angeles County.

The deputy who shot at the SUV has been placed on administrative leave, per department policy. See the full press releases from the Sheriff’s Office below.


The investigation into last night’s officer involved shooting in 2300 block of Chapel Hill Road in McKinleyville is still ongoing. Sheriff’s Office Detectives and members of the countywide Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT) are currently investigating the incident. CIRT consists of investigators from the District Attorney’s Office, Eureka Police Department, Arcata Police Department, State Department of Justice and the California Highway Patrol.

The male suspect, Michael Lawrence Barrett (age 23) remains in the Humboldt County Correctional Facility on a no bail warrant for Parole Violation out of Los Angeles. The unidentified adult female remains in a hospital, out of the area, with a non-life threatening injury to her hand. Investigators are still trying to confirm her identity due to her not cooperating with law enforcement. Neither Barrett nor the Deputy was injured.

The Deputy involved in the shooting is not being identified at this time and remains on administrative leave per the Sheriff’s Office Shooting protocol which is standard procedure in a case such as this.

Barrett and the unidentified female have not been charged with a crime at this point pending the outcome of the investigation.

Further information will be released as it becomes available.

Anyone with information for the Sheriff’s Office regarding this case or related criminal activity is asked to call the Sheriff’s Office at (707) 445-7251 or the Sheriff’s Office Tip Line at (707) 268-2539.


On 12-15-14 at about 9:00 p.m., a Humboldt County Sheriff Deputy attempted a traffic stop on a vehicle on Azalea Rd. near Chapel Hill rd. McKinleyville. The solo Deputy had observed a black SUV and learned that the vehicles registered owner had a felony warrant. The vehicle initially failed to stop and continued to drive in the 2300 block of Chapel Road. During the traffic stop the suspect vehicle pulled down into a private driveway with the Deputy following. At this time, the suspect vehicle attempted to drive back out of the driveway towards the Deputies location, at which time shots were fired by the Deputy Sheriff. During the suspects attempt to evade the Deputy, the suspect vehicle had struck two parked vehicles in the driveway. An injured female inside the vehicle has not yet been identified. The adult female received an unknown type of hand injury and was transported to a local hospital for treatment. A male suspect fled from the vehicle and ran into a wooded area. Information was gathered that the fleeing male suspect may have been armed at the time he fled. A search of the area was conducted utilizing Sheriff Deputies, and responding officers from Arcata Police Department, Eureka Police Department and the California Highway Patrol. A Fortuna Police K-9 Officer arrived and assisted with the search. After several hours of searching, the Police K-9 located a male suspect hiding in the wooded area. The male suspect, Michael Lawrence Barrett (age 23) was arrested and transported to the Humboldt County Jail and booked for his no bail charge for the Parole Violation warrant.
A County wide Shooting Investigative team has been activated and is currently investigating the incident and conducting interviews with all of the involved subjects. The Deputy has been placed on administrative leave per the Sheriff’s Office Shooting protocol.
Anyone with information for the Sheriffs Office regarding this case or related criminal activity is encouraged to call the Sheriffs Office at 707-
445-7251 or the Sheriffs Office Crime Tip line at 707-268-2539.

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Monday, December 15, 2014

Eureka to Hold Special Meeting on Homelessness

Posted By on Mon, Dec 15, 2014 at 2:08 PM

Devil's Playground. - LINDA STANSBERRY
  • Linda Stansberry
  • Devil's Playground.
Eureka city staff is seeking some direction on the issue of homeless encampments within city limits. Community members are invited to come weigh in tomorrow, December 16, from 4:30 to 5:40 p.m., just before the Eureka City Council meets. City officials will present various perspectives on homeless encampments in Eureka and possible solutions. Then, during the council meeting — after the council’s newest members, Natalie Arroyo and Kim Bergel, have been sworn in — an action item will see council members voting on how staff should proceed on the issue.

Sadie Ekenberg has been calling community members all day, encouraging people to attend and make their voices heard. A local group, Affordable Homeless Housing Alternatives, recently hosted a forum to educate the community on the "Opportunity Village" model of alternative housing.

An issue that Ekenberg sees as key and plans to bring up during the special session is changing the criteria for extreme weather shelters. Currently extreme weather shelters only open their doors to those in need when temperatures of 36 degrees or less are expected, or in the case of torrential rains.

"Thirty-six degrees is too cold," says Ekenberg, adding that she'd like "them to move the temperature reading to a higher level so more people can come in out of the elements."

The meeting will be held at 531 K St. in Eureka, upstairs at council chambers.

Editor's Note: This post has been updated from a previous version to correct some inaccurate information.

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Friday, December 12, 2014

UPDATE: "Wild Bill' Convicted of Deputy Shooting

Posted By on Fri, Dec 12, 2014 at 3:46 PM

William Lloyd Nelson
  • William Lloyd Nelson
A jury this afternoon convicted William “Wild Bill” Nelson of the attempted murder of a Humboldt County sheriff’s deputy, according to Assistant District Attorney Kelly Neel.

Nelson shot deputy Bang Cao once in the chest as Cao was trying to serve a judge’s order forcing Nelson to move out of his girlfriend’s Shelter Cove home. Nelson faces life in prison at his sentencing, which is scheduled to occur Jan. 15.

For more detail on Nelson’s case and trial, read Friday’s post below.

William “Wild Bill” Nelson’s fate now rests with a Humboldt County jury.

Nelson, who stands accused of the attempted murder of Humboldt County Sheriff’s Deputy Bang Cao on May 6, watched as attorneys in the case gave closing arguments yesterday and today. This morning, as Assistant District Attorney Kelly Neel told jurors how prosecutors believe he concealed himself behind protective cover before opening fire on deputies, Nelson erupted.

“She’s lying about that,” he said loudly, rising to his feet at the defense table. “They have had evidence they concealed from the jury.”

Nelson’s attorney, public defender Greg Elvine-Kreis, tried to quiet him.

“I don’t care,” Nelson said, his voice still raised. “I’ve tried to fire you three times. What the hell have you done for me?”

Judge Marilyn Miles ordered the jury out of the courtroom before admonishing Nelson that he needed to control himself and sit quietly or she’d have him removed for the duration of the proceeding. After Nelson repeatedly promised that he’d sit quietly, Miles let the jurors back in and asked them to disregard his outburst.

Nelson, who has a lengthy history of crimes and allegations in and around Shelter Cove, was arrested May 6 after allegedly opening fire on Cao and Sheriff’s Sgt. Ken Swithenbank while the officers were attempting to serve him with court papers ordering him to move out of his girlfriend’s home. Nelson allegedly shot Cao once in the chest at close proximity during the exchange, and Sheriff Mike Downey has said it’s likely Cao would not have survived but for his bulletproof vest.

During her closing argument today, Neel aimed to rebut the defense’s charge that the officers acted inappropriately in serving the move-out order and that Nelson was fearful of the officers and acting in self defense when he opened fire.

Evidence in the case, Neel said, shows that the officers were careful as they approached Nelson’s residence, knowing him to be volatile and armed. They knocked on the door, identifying themselves as police officers and telling him they had some paperwork for him. Neel said the officers heard Nelson answer, “What do you want?,” before they heard the bolt lock on the door latch shut.

The officers waited, Neel said, while Nelson apparently armed himself and took up a tactical position behind protective covering. From there, he told Cao and Swithenbank to get off his property before opening fire. “He aimed and he fired dead-center mass,” Neel said. “He tried to kill that deputy.”

Neel went on to argue that Nelson’s actions constitute the deliberate, premeditated attempted murder of a police officer. “Mr. Nelson made a calculated, thought-out, reasoned decision and he acted on it,” she said.
After Nelson opened fire, Neel said the scene was chaotic, with both Cao and Swithenbank shooting back as they attempted to flee the scene. Nelson was ultimately arrested without incident later that day after the Sheriff’s Office mobilized the SWAT team and cordoned off a large section of Shelter Cove.

Immediately following Nelson’s outburst in front of the jury this morning, Elvine-Kreis asked Miles to declare a mistrial in the case, saying the jury couldn’t possibly decide the case fairly. Neel objected. “Mr. Nelson doesn’t get to act out in court and create a mistrial,” she said. “That’s not how it works.”

Miles agreed, and jury deliberations are currently ongoing. Nelson faces 15 years to life in prison if convicted in the case.

For a detailed look at Nelson's past, check out prior Journal coverage here.
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Thursday, December 11, 2014

UPDATE: A Resolve for End of Life Care

Posted By on Thu, Dec 11, 2014 at 1:38 PM

Michael Fratkin. - TOBIN PHOTOGRAPHY
  • Tobin Photography
  • Michael Fratkin.
Resolution Care sailed past its crowdfunding goal, and stands at more than $105,000. The funds should allow Resolution Care to build the infrastructure and hire necessary staff to begin the initiative.

Dr. Michael Fratkin's Resolution Care initiative, featured on the coverof the Nov. 6 Journal, recently got a touching radio segment on KQED's California Report. Fratkin's attempt to build a better, farther-reaching palliative care center for the North Coast and beyond is gathering support. He's currently at $44,000 of a $100,000 crowdfunding campaign, with 8 days left.

If you'd like to donate or read more, visit Fratkin's website, You can read the Journal's previous coverage of Fratkin's effort here. And listen to the KQED segment below.

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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Our Man and the Father of the Nuclear Navy

Posted By on Tue, Dec 9, 2014 at 6:31 PM

Tonight — very late tonight — on PBS, you can watch the premiere of a film about Admiral Hyman G. Rickover — you know, the fella who built the first nuclear submarine, first nuclear aircraft carrier and first commercial nuclear power plant.

Why? Because you'll learn about a complex, brilliant, controversial person considered instrumental in ending the Cold War. But also because Humboldt resident and retired Navy Rear Adm. Dave Oliver is in the film. Oliver served under Rickover for much of his 32-year Navy career, and he wrote a book about him calledAgainst the Tide: Rickover’s Leadership Principles and the Rise of the Nuclear Navy. It came out in November.

  • Photo courtesy Jordan N. Fenster
  • Dave Oliver
Oliver also has rubbed elbows with the current presidential nominee for Secretary of Defense, Ashton Carter. As he tells BookTrib writer (and Oliver publicist) Jordan N. Fenster, he and “Ash” go back to the Clinton days when Oliver was Principal Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics for that administration:

“‘He was working on nuclear issues and I was worrying about the number of nuclear weapons in Russia,’ Oliver said. ‘We secretly smuggled 40 percent of the nuclear weapons in the world out of Kazakhstan.’”

There’s more to Oliver’s story than all that – go read up on your neighbor and his book.

The documentary premieres around dessert-time elsewhere in the country. Here in Humboldt, you insomniacs can catch it at 1 a.m. (so, technically, tomorrow) on KEET TV Channel 13. It airs again on Thursday Dec. 11 at 7 p.m.; Friday Dec. 12 at 1 a.m.; and Saturday Dec. 13 at 5 a.m. (Get up, lazy bones! Ya think Rickover slept in?)

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Batten Down the Hatches

Posted By on Tue, Dec 9, 2014 at 11:28 AM

  • NOAA
The North Coast is about to be battered with bad weather — exciting, we know, and California needs water — but that means dangerous conditions for the outdoors-minded among us.

High surf, strong winds and lots of rain are expected to land tonight and continue through late Thursday/early Friday.

The National Weather Service issued a high surf advisory — predicting 24-foot breaking waves through Wednesday night. That means it’s super dangerous to be on beaches, oceanside rocks and jetties, folks, so if you must see the waves do it from high above the waters, like the Trinidad bluffs.

“These large waves can be erratic and unpredictable,” the weather service warns. “Use extra caution near the surf zone as these large waves will be capable of sweeping people into the frigid and turbulent ocean waters.”

Rain is expected to bring the Eel River at Fernbridge to flood stage by early Thursday, and low lying areas and creeks and streams could flood. On top of that, high winds — 15 to 30 mph with 45 mph gusts and 60 mph (!) gusts in coastal headlands and ridgetops — will buffet the area, particularly in Trinidad, Crescent City, Kneeland and Fickle Hill.

The Weather Service and Coast Guard are also warning boaters about the conditions. A small craft advisory has been issued for the waters off the North Coast. “Mariners traversing the [Humboldt Bay] bar are urged to exercise extreme caution or stay in port until the threat subsides.”

Continue reading »

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Monday, December 8, 2014

O, the Pelican

Posted By on Mon, Dec 8, 2014 at 2:44 PM

Monte Merrick rescuing an oiled pelican from the Trinidad Pier in 2012. - PHOTO BY DREW HYLAND
  • Photo by Drew Hyland
  • Monte Merrick rescuing an oiled pelican from the Trinidad Pier in 2012.
Pelican lovers and meaning seekers, you have just a few more days to see the documentary Pelican Dreams at the Minor Theatre in Arcata. The film, by award-winning filmmaker Judy Irving (The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill) is about pelicans but also much more than pelicans. Says the film’s website:

“The film is about wildness: How close can we get to a wild animal without taming or harming it? Why do we need wildness in our lives, and how can we protect it?”

It co-stars some local creatures, including wildlife rescuer Monte Merrick, of Bird Ally X and the Humboldt Wildlife Care Center; some oil-bedraggled pelicans who’d foraged in openly dumped fish offal in some of our fishing ports; and a pelican rescued from a McKinleyville parking lot.

One of the chief stars, however, is “Gigi,” a brown pelican who in August 2008 held up traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge until she was rescued and brought to a wildlife rehabilitation facility in San Francisco, where Merrick was working at the time; Merrick was her primary caregiver. The other chief bird star is “Morro,” “a backyard pelican with an injured wing.”

The film, making the rounds around the country, shows through Thursday, Dec. 11, at the Minor.

Some Journal stories about brown pelican rescues: Déjà Rescue. Bird by Bird
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Redwoods by Candlelight

Posted By on Mon, Dec 8, 2014 at 1:05 PM

25th Annual Candlelight Walk, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park - PHOTO BY KEN MALCOMSON
  • Photo by Ken Malcomson
  • 25th Annual Candlelight Walk, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park
The luminarias held flickering LEDs, not wax candles, but the effect was nonetheless enchanting as hundreds of people traipsed into the dark forest at Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park for the 25th Annual Candlelight Walk on Dec. 6.

25th Annual Candlelight Walk, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park - PHOTO BY KEN MALCOMSON
  • Photo by Ken Malcomson
  • 25th Annual Candlelight Walk, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park
There was food and cider and warm fires. And it was a fundraiser for the park organization, with wine and other goodies for auction and raffle.

Continue reading »

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Friday, December 5, 2014

Not Exactly Curtains for Richardson Grove Widening

Posted By on Fri, Dec 5, 2014 at 5:59 PM


The curtain lowered this week on Caltrans' plan to widen U.S. Highway 101 through Richardson Grove — a plan so controversial it's inspired numerous lawsuits and even mass naked supplications down among the lush giants. But it could rise again.

In a news release, the Environmental Protection Information Center announced that "Conservation groups and local residents this week dismissed a lawsuit they filed in federal court in July in exchange for Caltrans abandoning the project approvals and agreeing to restart the environmental review if the agency pursues the project." EPIC called it an important victory.

Caltrans appears to be considering it a mere setback. In a news release, the agency confirmed it had withdrawn its finding of no significant impact on the project, but noted it is "conducting further environmental review ... ."

Caltrans proposed the project in 2007, citing — with agreement from some local proponents — a need to improve safety and make room so larger trucks can wind their way through. Opponents said there was no proof of a need to improve safety, nor of an economy stunted by a forced-reliance on shorter trucks — not enough to justify damaging roots of redwoods, some as old as 2,000 years and as big as 18-feet wide in diameter and 300 feet tall, they said. (Here's a two-part primer:Part 1 and Part II.)

Here's EPIC's news release (and Caltrans' follows):

Continue reading »

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