Sheriff William Honsal. Photo: Andrew Goff.




The suspect in the Sunday morning shooting of a sheriff’s deputy near Ferndale is a Mexican citizen in the country illegally, Sheriff Bill Honsal told members of the media in a press conference this morning.

Honsal declined to provide the name of the deputy struck by the suspect at this time, though he did say that she is a woman who has served on the force for three years.

“I’m very happy, very thankful that a deputy did not get killed over this,” Honsal said. “It was very close.”  

Honsal said that the sheriff’s office received report of a disturbance at the dairy ranch on the 700 block of Coppini Road, just outside Ferndale, shortly after midnight. Two officers — a sergeant and a deputy — responded from Eureka. 

When they arrived at the scene at about 12:45 a.m., a woman came running out of a small, barn-like structure and told the officers that she had been held there against her will by an armed man, who she identified as Hugo Parral Aguirre. The officers drew their weapons and the suspect came out of the building and fired a shotgun round at them. It struck the deputy in the shoulder, directly above her bulletproof vest. The two officers on-scene moved to positions of cover, bringing the woman with them, and returned fire.

Officers from law enforcement agencies all around the county then responded to the scene to provide aid. They surrounded the building while awaiting the arrival of a SWAT team. Ferndale Fire also responded to treat the deputy.

Hugo Parral Aguirre.

The SWAT team got to the scene at about 3:45 a.m. They found Parral Aguirre lying on a bed with multiple gunshot wounds. He struggled, but was ultimately taken into custody without the SWAT officers having to fire their weapons, Honsal said.

The subsequent investigation showed that the Parral Aguirre had been in a dispute with the female victim’s boyfriend, Honsal said, and that shots had been fired at the scene prior to the arrival of law enforcement. No one had been hit at that time.

Honsal said that his office and the county’s Critical Incident Response Team are still gathering evidence, and will present their case against Parral Aguirre to the District Attorney before Wednesday, at which point he will have 10 days to be arraigned. He said that his office is precluded by state law from honoring any “hold requests” from the federal Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, but that he is very confident that law enforcement has a strong case against the suspect.

“We’re focused on the criminal charges,” Honsal said. “We believe we will have enough evidence to prosecute him, and hold him to his crimes locally.”

The names of the deputy and sergeant who initially responded to the scene will be released later this week, Honsal said. The deputy who was struck by the suspect’s gunfire is recovering. The sheriff said that the two did an “outstanding job” in protecting the original victim and themselves.


UPDATE, 1:45 p.m.: The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office just issued the following statement:

Just after midnight on Dec. 17, 2017 a call was placed to our dispatch center for a disturbance at 706 Coppini Ave, just outside of the city limits of Ferndale. The caller described a conflict between two non-English speaking male individuals. A sheriff’s deputy and a Sergeant were dispatched from the Eureka area at around 12:19 a.m. These sheriff’s deputies were in standard uniforms and marked patrol vehicles. They arrived on scene at 12:46 a.m.

Deputies arrived and parked a short distance from the two residences located at the far north end of Coppini Lane. As deputies approached the smaller barn structured residence on foot they identified themselves through the doorway. A female ran out the front door of the residence and told deputies that she was being held against her will by a male subject who was later identified as 30-year-old Hugo Parral-Aguirre. She advised deputies that Parral-Aguirre was in possession of a firearm.

The deputy’s uniform, with blood stains and holes from shotgun pellets.

Deputies saw Parral-Aguirre inside the residence. The deputies drew their weapons and ordered Parral-Aguirre to drop his gun. Parral-Aguirre then turned toward the deputies and the female, and shot one round from a 12 gauge shot gun at the deputies through the open doorway. The round struck one deputy in the left shoulder just above the bullet proof vest. The deputies returned fire as they pulled the female victim to a position of cover. The deputies held the cover position while requesting county wide mutual aid. Officers from Ferndale, Eureka, Arcata, Fortuna, Rio Dell, HSU, CHP and Fish and Wildlife responded. Ferndale Fire and City Ambulance responded to render aid to the officer struck by the gunfire. The Deputy was transported to St. Joseph Hospital for treatment. A call was placed to area residents regarding the police action through the Emergency Alert Notification system.

County officers held the cover position until the Sheriff’s SWAT team arrived on scene. At approximately 3:45 a.m. the SWAT team approached the residence. Parral-Aguirre was located laying on a bed in the bottom floor of the residence. He refused commands both in English and Spanish. The SWAT team then entered the residence and attempted to take Parral-Aguirre into custody. Parral-Aguirre was uncooperative and began to fight with the officers. The team subsequently took the Parral-Aguirre into custody without further assistance.

Emergency medical personnel were immediately dispatched and medical aid was rendered. Parral-Aguirre was transported to St. Josephs for treatment. He sustained three, non-life threatening gunshot wounds. Parral-Aguirre was treated and then released to the custody of the Humboldt County Correctional Facility.

Through interviews and investigation, it was determined that Parral-Aguirre trespassed into the residence with a shotgun over a dispute with one of the residents. He shot at another resident and was holding the female subject hostage prior to deputies’ arrival. Parral-Aguirre was not employed at the dairy and he is a citizen of Mexico.

This case is still under the investigation by the Humboldt County Critical Incident Response Team. Members of the Eureka Police Department, Arcata Police Department, Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office, District Attorney and State Department of Justice Criminologist are actively investigating the case. At the conclusion of the investigations, charges will be requested with the District Attorney for attempted murder on a peace officer and false imprisonment.
Several lead pellets were removed from the injured deputy’s shoulder. She was released from the hospital later in the day on Dec. 18 and is currently recovering. The names of the sheriff’s deputies involved will be released at a future date. Both deputies have been placed on
administrative leave pending the investigation.

Parral-Aguirre has a criminal history. On Aug. 8, 2008 Parral-Aguirre was arrested for assault and battery. At that time, he was turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement on a warrant for illegal entry into the country. Parral-Aguirre was transferred to Federal Prison on Aug. 20, 2008. He voluntarily left the United States in 2008. In 2015 he was deported from the United States by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Parral-Aguirre is in the country illegally.

This is still an active investigation. Anyone with information for the Sheriff’s Office regarding this case or related criminal activity is encouraged to call the Sheriff’s Office at (707) 445-7251 or the Sheriff’s Office Crime Tip line at (707) 268-2539.