From the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office:
Humboldt County District Attorney (DA) Maggie Fleming has declined to prosecute the employee of the Patriot Gas Station in Blue Lake for killing the person who robbed that business on the night of July 2, 2020. The employee has stated he acted in self-defense. No witness statements or other evidence contradict that assertion.
The employee also stated he possessed a gun in response to a recent prior robbery at his workplace. In reaching her decision before the person arrested had to be either charged or released – within 2 court days of their arrest – the DA benefitted from a complete and efficient investigation by the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office.
UPDATE: Press release from the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office:
Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office investigators have determined the suspect of last week’s homicide in Blue Lake acted in self-defense.
On July 2, 2020, at about 9:45 p.m., Humboldt County Sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to a business on the 200 block of Blue Lake Blvd. in Blue Lake for the report of an armed robbery with shots fired. Deputies located an unidentified male subject outside of the business with a gunshot wound to the chest. Despite lifesaving efforts, the man succumbed to his injuries on scene.
Upon initial investigation, deputies learned that the male subject was the suspect attempting to rob the business. The man approached an employee, later identified as 39-year-old Mark Anthony Nelson Jr., and a patron, who were outside of the business. The subject brandished what appeared to be a firearm and the two fled. The man entered the store and proceeded with the robbery. The man was later shot when he exited the business.
Humboldt County Sheriff’s Criminal Investigators responded to the scene to begin their investigation. As part of that investigation, investigators interviewed witnesses and served a search warrant at the business. During the search, deputies located a stolen firearm which had been concealed inside the business. Investigators also reviewed surveillance footage depicting the inside of the business. It should be noted that the business did not have functioning surveillance cameras outside the business, where the shooting occurred, thus complicating the investigation.
While providing an initial statement, Nelson Jr. denied shooting the robbery suspect and provided information inconsistent with the evidence at the scene. Nelson Jr. also denied possession of the stolen firearm. Through further investigation, it was determined that Nelson Jr. made efforts to conceal the firearm prior to law enforcement arrival. A bullet consistent with evidence collected at the scene was located in Nelson Jr.’s pocket during a search of his person.
Based upon evidence gained through the investigation, it was determined that Nelson Jr., who is legally prohibited from possessing weapons, had been in possession of the stolen firearm and had used the firearm to shoot the robbery suspect. With consideration of all these investigative pieces, investigators arrested Nelson Jr. for violations of murder (PC 187(a)), possession of stolen property (PC 496(a)) and convicted felon in possession of a firearm (PC 29800(a)).
Investigators continued their investigation in the following days, re-interviewing subjects and further examining evidence. As part of this investigation, associated electronic devices and vehicles were searched.
On the evening of July 5, the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office was contacted to file a missing person’s report for 53-year-old Jeffrey Allen Kirwan of Santa Rosa. Based upon the facts of the missing person’s report, investigators determined that the missing person may be the unidentified decedent from the robbery and homicide in Blue Lake.
The decedent of the homicide was later confirmed as Kirwan through fingerprints.
On July 7, Nelson Jr. agreed to provide an additional statement to investigators. While speaking with investigators, Nelson Jr. admitted to shooting the robbery suspect and asserted that the shooting was in self-defense. This statement was consistent with the investigation and evidence located at the scene.
Based upon the continued investigation and the totality of evidence reviewed to date, investigators have determined Nelson Jr. to have acted in self-defense. Nelson Jr. will be released from the Humboldt County Correctional Facility pursuant to PC 849(b)(1).
Additionally, through further investigation, deputies have determined the decedent, Kirwan, to be a possible suspect of a recent robbery at a Trinidad business. The investigation into that case is ongoing.
All information collected through this investigation will be submitted to the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office for review and a final determination of charges.