A number of friends o’ the LoCO wrote us last night to ask some variation of the question: What’s going on out 36? Cops are flying out toward Bridgeville with lights and sirens blaring.
Lt. Wayne Hanson of the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office filled us in a little while ago. What happened, he said, was this.
A contractor had been working at a piece of property between Bridgeville and Dinsmore — about 29 miles down the highway from Alton. The contractor’s truck got stuck in some mud, so he called a tow truck. The tow truck driver then proceeded to get stuck himself.
At this point, Hanson told us, 29-year-old Robert Coleman — the owner of the property — came over, brandishing a handgun. (This according to the tow truck driver.) Coleman ordered the driver off the property. He did not point the gun directly at the driver, apparently, but in the driver’s telling of the tale he waved it around, aggressively.
His truck being stuck in the mud, the driver left on foot.
Sheriff’s deputies later arrived and located Coleman. They did not find a gun on his person. That being the case, they could not arrest him of their own authority. So they asked the tow truck driver if he would care to effectuate a citizen’s arrest, which he did. The Sheriff’s Office took Coleman into custody and booked him into jail on misdemeanor charges of brandishing a weapon.
Hanson said that the lights and sirens and general sense of hurry down the highway were due to the fact that the Sheriff’s Office originally received this as a hostage-taking call — that the suspect was holding the tow truck driver at gunpoint. This turned out not to be the case.
POSTSCRIPT: Scanner traffic last night indicated that a very great number of marijuana plants had been found at the scene, here. Hanson confirmed this.
However, he said, the sheriff’s office did nothing about it at the time because of a shortage of manpower. Much of the Humboldt County Drug Task Force is up in Weitchpec, assisting with the big multiagency raids on the Yurok Reservation, while a large portion of the detective’s bureau is gathering evidence on two homicides in the Rancho Sequoia area in the last seven days.
Hanson said, with something of a sigh, that the office hopes to visit the scene again, warrants in hand.
“We may go back in the near future,” he said. “That’s our plan. I can’t tell when or if, but it’s possible.”