Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Two Suspects in Robbery, Hit and Run in Critical Condition After Police Shooting, Investigation Ongoing

Posted By on Wed, Apr 19, 2023 at 6:29 PM

click to enlarge The crash scene at Harris and Dolbeer streets. - PHOTOS BY MARK MCKENNA
  • Photos by Mark McKenna
  • The crash scene at Harris and Dolbeer streets.
Two suspects, one of whom allegedly fired at least once at a deputy, are in critical condition with multiple gunshot wounds following a police shooting that occurred after they crashed into another vehicle at Harris and Dolbeer streets during a police pursuit Tuesday afternoon.
click to enlarge Jesse Widmark
  • Jesse Widmark

At a press conference today, Humboldt County Sheriff William Honsal identified the suspects as brothers Brandon Widmark, 27, and Jesse Widmark, 18. 

At least six others were also injured, two seriously, over the course of nearly 30 minutes in a series of incidents that began with the report of an armed robbery and assault near the Bayshore Mall just before 3 p.m.

No deputies were injured.

According to Honsal, the pursuit began at 3:15
click to enlarge Brandon Widmark
  • Brandon Widmark
 p.m. when a deputy on patrol in the Cutten area spotted a red 2004 Ford F-250 matching the description of one reported to have fled the Bayshore Mall scene and a pedestrian hit-and-run at West Washington and Summer streets that occurred shortly afterward.

He said the suspects' vehicle fled up Dolbeer Street at a "high rate of speed" after the deputy attempted to initiate a traffic stop and the red truck collided with a Toyota truck at the intersection with Harris Street moments later, with both vehicles coming to rest in a private yard.

According to Honsal, the two suspects emerged from the red truck following the crash "armed with rifles pointed at the deputy across the intersection" and at least one shot was believed to have been fired, hitting the deputy's vehicle.

Two deputies, who arrived as backup in an unmarked HCSO truck and pulled  alongside the suspects' truck, fired their weapons at the suspects, as did another deputy who pulled up across the street, the sheriff said.

Honsal said the "suspects were struck by gunfire," dropping their weapons at that point. They were taken into custody and deputies initiated medical aid until the ambulance arrived.

Two other people in the suspects' truck — a 37-year-old woman and a 2-year-old child — received minor injuries in the crash. The 42-year-old driver of the Toyota that was hit sustained moderate injuries while a 27-year-old female passenger received major injuries. A 2-year-old boy with them was not physically injured, according to officials.

The 33-year-old male assault victim suffered minor head injuries and the 34-year-old male pedestrian received major injuries. He was reported to be in stable but critical condition.

Two schools and a preschool in the vicinity of the shooting were placed on lockdown.

The three law enforcement officers who fired their weapons were identified as a sheriff's office sergeant with 14 years of experience, a deputy with six years of experience and a deputy with 10 years of experience. The deputy involved in the initial pursuit has five years of experience.

They are all on administrative leave pending an administrative investigation, according to the HCSO, which is standard protocol.

The Eureka Police Department and the Humboldt County District Attorney's Office are heading the ongoing multi-agency investigation into the shooting.

"We will conduct the investigation start to finish and eventually send the case to the district attorney's office for potential prosecution," Eureka Police Chief Todd Jarvis said.

In response to a question about how many shots were fired, Honsal said the investigation is ongoing but evidence collected on scene indicates "there were multiple shots fired by at least two deputies."

Honsal said the deputies did have body cams but the "cameras were not activated at the time of the incident" and were turned on afterward. When asked by a reporter why the cameras were not on, the sheriff said "that's going to be a question that we will be asking."

The sheriff said private video that shows "some segments of this incident" were also recovered.

The Widmark  brothers, who are believed to currently reside in Mendocino County but have "family ties to Humboldt County and frequently come here," are also suspected in a April 14 robbery that occurred in the Valley West area of Arcata, Honsal said.

Both have "very serious injuries" and are currently being treated at a local hospital, Honsal said. 

According to HSCO, three weapons associated with the suspects were recovered during the scene investigation: a Winchester Model 70 bolt-action 270 rifle, a Marlin Model 60 .22 caliber long rifle and a Sigsauer M17 Airsoft handgun.

Jarvis asked anyone with information about the case or suspects to contact
Eureka Police Department Detective Raymond Nunez at (707) 441-4109.

The chief also thanked the community for "displaying a lot of patience" as several major roads down during the on scene investigation.  

Find the full release from the HCSO here.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct the ages of the suspects.
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Kimberly Wear

Kimberly Wear is the assistant editor of the North Coast Journal.

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