Safety and Public Awareness

Safety and Public Awareness

News reporting arrests, weather warnings, product recalls, and other important information relating to safety and public awareness, are found in this category.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Woman assaulted by ex-boyfriend in Ferndale

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According to a press release from the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office, dated 9/26/11:
On September 26, 2011, approximately 5:00 p.m. the Humboldt County Sheriffs Office responded to Redwood Memorial Hospital to meet with an assault victim.  Upon arriving at the hospital the deputy met with the adult female victim who was being treated for a large deep four to five inch gash to the back of her head. The victim told the deputy she was exiting a residence near Russ Lane and Centerville Road, Ferndale when her ex-boyfriend Hilargo Vargas-Rodriguez, 25 years old from Ferndale, showed up on a bicycle. Prior to the encounter he had been texting her that he was going to kill her since their breakup.  As soon as the victim saw the suspect she started to run. The suspect picked up a three foot block of wood and pursued her. The suspect threw the block of wood at her striking her in the back of the head, knocking her out.  When she awoke Vargas-Rodriguez was gone and her friends who witnessed the assault drove her to the hospital.
Deputies located Vargas-Rodriguez at a residence in the 1300 block of Dillion Road, Ferndale and Vargas-Rodriguez was booked into the Humboldt County Correctional Facility on charges of assault causing great bodily injury, domestic violence, and terrorist threats. He is being held without bail. 
Friday, September 23, 2011

Man with gun arrested in Maple Creek area

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According to a press release from the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office, dated 9/22/11:
On September 22, 2011, approximately 0945 a.m. the Humboldt County Sheriffs office received a call from Green Diamond Security requesting deputies respond to the area of Browns Ridge, Maple Creek near Maple Creek School. Green Diamond security received reports from log truck drivers who were reporting a male behaving erratically and armed with a high powered rifle  shooting along the roadway. Humboldt County Sheriffs Deputies and California Highway Patrol Officers responded to the scene to look for the suspect, along with a California Highway Patrol Helicopter. The Sheriffs Office immediately notified the Maple Creek School of the suspect possibly in their area, and the school initiated a school lockdown and shelter in place as a precaution.

At approximately 11:10 am deputies notified the school staff that the suspect was determined not to be in the immediate area, and the lockdown was released. Officers remained in the area of the school as a precaution while deputies expanded their search. At approximately 1:00 p.m. deputies located a suspect matching the description given along logging road approximately, one mile behind Maple Creek School. When deputies saw the suspect he was lying down on the ground on top of a loaded assault weapon. Deputies arrested the suspect without further incident. The suspect had a loaded AK-47 type of assault weapon. Deputies learned that the suspect, Melvin Louis Coffer, 25 years of McKinleyville, was on felony probation with a prohibition from owning or possessing a firearm. Coffer was arrested and booked into the Humboldt County Correctional Facility for being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm, violation of probation and trespass. His bail was set at $50,000.00. 

According to a presss release from the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office, dated September 22, 2011:

On 09-22-2011 Humboldt County Sheriffs Detectives arrested Anthony Patrick Cotham, 31 years old of Eureka and Robert Joseph Mann, 35 years old, for several theft of copper wire cases and vehicle arson. The detectives were able to tie the two suspects to the following cases:
The first case, #201007820 occurred on November 25th, 2010. The suspects stole approximately $15,000.00 worth of copper wire from a business at the Fairhaven Business Park, 1900 Bendixsen Street, Samoa.  During that theft the suspects also cut a live 15000 volt wire which powered the entire business. The damage to the plant and power line was estimated to be over $250,000.00. The second case, # 201103759 the suspects entered a pump house at the Fairhaven Business Park on 03-19-2011 and using a torch to cut into a transformer and steal about $4000.00 worth of copper wire. The third case, Case Number # 201103020 occurred on 05-29-2011.  At 7:00 a.m., the Samoa–Peninsula Fire Department responded to a vehicle fire at the north end of the Fairhaven Business Park, off Vance Avenue, Fairhaven. Upon their arrival they located a Pacific Gas and Electric (P.G. & E.) Bucket Truck engulfed by fire. While fighting the fire, personnel also located another Pacific Gas and Electric (P.G.&E.) Ford F-150 pickup truck parked near by.  Fire personnel saw the pickup trucks interior had also been burned. Damage was estimated at $400,000. The last case number # 201104495 occurred on 08-14-2011. The suspects allegedly broke into the Three Corners Market, on Myrtle Avenue, Freshwater and attempted to steal the ATM Machine. 
Both Cotham and Mann were already in jail on other theft and drug related charges when detectives arrested them on these new charges. Cotham was booked into the Humboldt County correctional facility on additional charges of two counts burglary, one count of attempted burglary, arson, vehicle theft and felony vandalism. Bail is set on the new cases at $310,000.00. Mann was booked into the Humboldt County Correctional Facility on new charges of burglary, grand theft, arson and vehicle theft. Bail was set on the new cases at  $225,000.00
Anyone with additional information regarding these cases is requested to contact  Humboldt County Sheriffs Detective  Cheryl Franco 707-445-7251.
Patrick Cotham
Joseph Mann
Thursday, September 22, 2011

Update on acid bomb explosion at Bayshore Mall

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According to a press release from the Eureka Police Department, dated September 22, 2011:

On 9/05/11, at about 1:43 PM, officials with the Eureka Fire Department (EFD) and Eureka Police Department (EPD) were dispatched to the Bayshore Mall (3300 Broadway) regarding an explosion in a hallway there.  Upon arrival, they found remnants and scattered debris from an apparent “muriatic acid and aluminum foil bomb” packaged in a 2-liter plastic soda bottle.  (See original press release below).  
EPD Criminal Investigation Services detectives reviewed video surveillance footage of the incident, which depicted four juvenile suspects who were involved in planting and detonating the homemade explosive device in a hallway.  Detectives developed several leads and eventually identified the suspects:  three males and a female ranging from 13 years old to 15 years old.  According to the lead investigator, Senior Detective Ronald Harpham, evidence suggests three of the juveniles violated criminal conspiracy laws and a 13 year-old male suspect violated a law pertaining to possession of an explosive device in a public place.  None of the juvenile suspects had prior criminal histories or negative contacts with local law enforcement.  The investigation is now complete and the criminal case has been forwarded to the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office.  
Original Press Release from  9/06/11:
On 9/05/11, at about 1:43 PM, the Eureka Fire Department (EFD) was dispatched to the Bayshore Mall (3300 Broadway) regarding an explosion in a hallway there.  Upon arrival, EFD officials found remnants and scattered debris from an apparent “muriatic acid and aluminum foil bomb” packaged in a 2-liter plastic soda bottle.  At approximately 2:00 PM, Eureka Police Department officers were dispatched to the mall to assist EFD with the resulting criminal investigation and evidence collection.  EPD investigators reviewed mall security surveillance footage, which depicted four juvenile suspects (3 males and one female approximately 13-years old) who were involved in planting and detonating the homemade explosive device in a hallway.  In the video, the juvenile suspects were seen entering the mall hallway together through an entrance/exit on the south side of the mall near Spencer’s.  One of the male juveniles is then seen returning to the door alone moments later, removing the 2-liter plastic bottle/explosive device from his backpack and mixing/shaking its components together.  The suspect then sets the device on the floor near the door and walks quickly away from it.  Approximately 3 minutes later, the bomb detonates.  As the suspect walks away from the acid bomb he just planted, an unsuspecting woman is seen on video walking past him and the device and exiting through the doorway.    
No property appeared to have been damaged by the explosion and there were no reported injuries.  However, debris and muriatic acid from the device was scattered across the floor and walls.   EPD investigators are currently following up on leads they’ve developed.  EPD would like to emphasize that this is not being treated as a mere “prank,” but rather as a serious crime.  The suspect(s) committed at least two felonies:  1) possession and detonation of an illegal explosive device in a public place, and 2) releasing noxious/injurious gases/liquids in a public place.  Muriatic acid (also called hydrochloric acid) is available over the counter at many hardware stores.  It is a highly corrosive, strong acid commonly used for many industrial applications such as leather processing and cleaning masonry surfaces.  When mixed with aluminum foil, a chemical reaction occurs which creates hydrogen gas.  When these ingredients are put together inside a sealed container such as a 2-liter water bottle, the resulting gas expands inside the container until a loud explosion with an ensuing noxious white cloud occurs.  Muriatic acid is irritating and corrosive to living tissue (mild to severe burns of the eyes and skin can occur). Brief, low level exposure can cause irritation of the eyes, skin, and respiratory system.  Higher level exposure can result in chemical burns, breathing difficulties, swelling and spasms of the throat, accumulation of fluid in the lungs and even suffocation and death. 
Additionally, if an individual were to be in close proximity to a muriatic acid and aluminum foil bomb when it exploded, the explosion itself could cause significant tissue damage.  
Anyone with information concerning the suspects’ identities is asked to call the Eureka Police Department.  Please direct your inquiries/information to the lead investigator, Senior Detective Ron Harpham, at 707-441-4305.  
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