Mendocino Grower Allegedly Threatens Firefighter
Mendocino Co. Sheriff Press Release:
On 8-30-2012 Mendocino County Sheriffs Deputies were dispatched to the area of the “North Pass Fire complex” in Covelo regarding a firefighter that had been threatened with a firearm.
Upon arrival deputies contacted a CALFIRE Firefighter that reported he was on a vacant lot of land, in the “Blands Cove” area, involved in fire suppression duties and documenting fire damage, when he came across a small marijuana garden. The firefighter, who was driving a marked CALFIRE vehicle and wearing firefighter protection gear, ignored the marijuana garden and proceeded with fire suppression efforts (It should be noted that this area was clearly marked and identified as a mandatory evacuation area due to the aggressive fire behavior and ongoing fire suppression efforts).
As the firefighter was continuing with fire suppression efforts, he noticed a vehicle drive up to his location. The vehicle approached him and pulled up next to him. The male subject inside the vehicle told the Firefighter that he needed to leave the area. When the firefighter attempted to explain to the subject that he was engaged in fire suppression activity, the male subject told him that he needed to leave immediately, the subject then looked down at an object that was between his legs on the floor board of the vehicle. As the firefighter looked into the vehicle he could see that a shotgun was between the subject legs, and that the barrel was pointed directly at him. In fear for his life, the firefighter left the area immediately.
Following a search of the area, deputies located a residence (located within the mandatory evacuation area) and the possible suspect vehicle. Deputies contacted a male subject at the residence who admitted to confronting the CALFIRE Firefighter. In addition, the male subject, later identified as VEDA Bennett-Swank, admitted that he was growing marijuana and that he was aware that he was remaining in an mandatory fire evacuation area.
Veda Bennett-Swank was arrested for brandishing a firearm in a rude, angry or threatening manner, interfering with emergency personnel or a firefighter at a fire and criminal threats. He is currently being held at the Mendocino County jail on $20,000.00 bail