UPDATE, 3:11 p.m.: (VIDEO) Manila Homeless Camp Resident Arrested For Felony Assault and Arson
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UPDATE, 11:37 a.m.: From the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office:
At about 9:30 this morning, August 18, a male subject living in Manila phoned the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office requesting a deputy and medical assistance. He said he had been assaulted at his home in Manila by an unknown subject. The victim said he believed the suspect left the scene riding a bicycle. He also stated he believed shots were fired and he may have been shot.
The scene was secured by deputies and the victim was transported to the hospital where it was determined that he had a minor laceration on the back of this head. The victim did not know what weapon caused the injury. The investigating deputies found no evidence of shots being fired around the location of occurrence. The victim’s home was an illegal structure he’d built in an area where transients are known to frequent. The structure was burned to the ground.
Humboldt Fire responded and suppressed the fire. CHP responded to close Hwy 255 and create a bypass while the fire was extinguished. The deputies did a systematic search for the suspect, or any additional victims, at the scene. The reporting victim was the only one at the location of occurrence.
UPDATE, 11:13 a.m.: Arcata Fire Batallion Chief Sean Campbell recaps this morning’s events. He says that the children that were feared to be trapped inside the burning structure — a part of the homeless camp, apparently — have not been located, but certainly were not inside the building.
Campbell had little information about the reported victim of assault, which emergency personnel learned about just before the fire.
“I was not aware this camp was here,” Campbell said, speaking of the elaborate camp on the edge of the bay that was the center of this morning’s activities. “It’s a very elaborate camp.”
The highway should be reopened within half an hour, Campbell said.
More pictures of the encampment from the Outpost’s Andrew Goff below.
Site of the homeless encampment.
UPDATE, 10:18 a.m.: Highway 255 is fully closed through Manila. Seek other routes. CHP dispatch estimates that the highway will remain closed for the next two to four hours, as emergency personnel continue to deal with the fire and the criminal investigation
The Outpost’s Andrew Goff, at the scene, says that a nearby resident notes that the region at the focus of this morning’s activities has been a homeless encampment for several months, ever since the nearby Dog Ranch — once a major encampment — was fenced off.
Sheriff’s deputies remain on-scene, investigating. Their on-duty spokesperson, Lt. Dennis Young, says that they don’t yet have much information from officers in the field.
UPDATE, 10:08 a.m.: The fire has been controlled, according to scanner traffic.
Law enforcement and fire personnel are currently responding to Manila on reports of an assault that occurred this morning and an associated structure fire in the area of Pebble Road, reportedly near a homeless encampment.
Rescuers have shut down one lane of Highway 255 in order to battle the fire, which has spread into vegetation.
The call first came in to the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office around 9:30 a.m. A caller reported that a 45-year-old man had been badly beaten and/or shot by a suspect or suspects who then fled on bicycles.
Soon after, people noticed a fire nearby. Personnel from Arcata Fire and Humboldt Bay Fire responded to that area and found a structure on fire — possibly occupied — and that the fire had spread into nearby vegetation.
Sheriff’s deputies accompanied fire personnel into the area, as it had been suspected that the suspects in the assault had fled into a homeless camp near the fire.
The Outpost is en route. We’ll update shortly.