UPDATE, 7/3/18, 7:30 a.m. — The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office issued a robo-call and text saying that they have a suspect in custody, a few minutes ago. Here is the text:
THIS IS THE MENDOCINO COUNTY SHERIFFS OFFICE THE HOMICIDE SUSPECT HAS BEEN LOCATED AND IS IN CUSTODY, THE SHERIFF WOULD LIKE TO THANK ALL CITIZENS FOR YOUR CALLS AND REPORTS IN THIS MATTER
UPDATE 10:50 p.m. — As of 1145 p.m. the 101 is fully open, according to CalTrans.
UPDATE 10:35 p.m. — Captain Van Patten of the MCSO has informed us that the investigators are now waiting on a tow truck, and that the southbound lanes of the 101 should be reopened within about an hour.
UPDATE 10:23 p.m. — The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office has issued a press release on the incident, which offers a few clarifications. Scroll down for all our reporting. Here is the full text:
DATE: “July 2, 2018”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Crime/Incident:Suspicious Shooting Incident
Location:Approximate Mile Post Marker 35 on North Highway 101 in Willits, California
Date of Incident:07-02-2018
4:30 PMVictim(s):(2) Unidentified Adult Males
Written By:Captain Gregory L. Van Patten #1184
On 07-02-2018 at approximately 4:41 PM Deputies from the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office and Officers from the California Highway Patrol where dispatched to a suspicious situation in the area of Mile Post Marker 35 on North Highway 101 south of Golden Rule.
Initial reports suggested a vehicle had been involved in a traffic collision and that an occupant was suffering from a gunshot wound.
Law enforcement personnel arrived and located a 2001 maroon Chevrolet Silverado 4-door pickup truck stopped in the southbound traffic lanes of North Highway 101.
Inside the pickup truck were two adult male occupants suffering from obvious gunshot wounds (undetermined amount at this time). One occupant was determined to be deceased and the other occupant suffered from a life threatening injury requiring him to be transported to an out of county hospital for medical treatment.
Mendocino County Sheriff’s Detectives were summoned to the scene and have assumed investigative jurisdiction into the incident with assistance from the California Highway Patrol, California Department of Justice and Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office.
Mendocino County Sheriff’s Detectives are actively conducting investigations and more information will be released at a later date by press release as information becomes available.
Anyone who may have witnessed the shooting incident or the pickup truck prior to or after the shooting is urged to contact the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office Tip-Line by calling 707-234-2100.
Anonymous information can be left on this Tip-Line.
Approved by:Captain Gregory L. Van Patten #1184
UPDATE, 9:30 p.m. — Just a quick recap of a situation that’s been developing since before 5 p.m. The southbound lanes of US Route 101, from Willits to about Uva Dr. in Redwood Valley, are closed. The people who were stuck in the southbound lanes of the freeway earlier, appear to have been directed through a gap in the k-rails, into a northbound lane — where it seems they were allowed to travel south, in the northbound lane. The northbound lanes are open.
However, the southbound lanes remain closed, the movement of traffic was only for people already stuck. As law enforcement conduct an investigation into the homicide that occurred, the southbound lanes of the 101 are still closed. Southbound traffic from north of Willits is being routed off of the 101 and into Willits. The southern on-ramp to the 101 from Willits (or in CalTrans terminology, the interchange between highways 20 and 101) is closed, with a police presence there turning people around.
At about 4:30 p.m. two men were shot, at about mile marker 37, on Hwy. 101, or about 2.5 miles north of Uva Dr. One of the men died, and we do not know the condition of the other. A suspect is currently at large, and the MCSO has sent out a robo-call and text, with information (see below) about this suspect. There is no description of the suspect and it is unknown if they are male or female, but apparently they left the scene on foot.
It is unknown when the southbound 101 will reopen, but it could be a couple more hours.
UPDATE 8:45 p.m. — The Mendocino County Sheriff has sent out a text message and phone call, presumably through the reverse 911 system, with new information about the suspect, here is the message:
THIS IS THE MENDOCINO COUNTY SHERIFFS OFFICE. WE ARE ASKING FOR CITIZEN ASSISTANCE IN LOCATING THE SUSPECT FROM A SHOOTING THAT OCCURED[sic] ON HIGHWAY 101 BETWEEN UKIAH AND WILLITS. THE SUSPECT LEFT ON FOOT IN AN UNKNOWN DIRECTION OF TRAVEL. IT IS UNKNOWN IF THE SUSPECT IS MALE OR FEMALE, NOR DO WE HAVE ANY CLOTHING DESCRIPTION. SUBJECT MAY BE ARMED AND DANGEROUS. PLEASE CONTACT THE SHERIFFS DEPARTMENT IF YOU HAVE ANY INFORMATION ON THE INCIDENT OR NOTICE SUBJECTS IN YOUR AREA THAT ARE STRANGE OR OUT OF PLACE. ESPECIALLY ANYONE SEEN IN YOUR AREA HITCH HICKING.[sic]
UPDATE 8:10 p.m. — It appears, based on scanner chatter, that the traffic break in the northbound lanes of the 101 was successfully executed, and that traffic flow has resumed.
Also CalTrans has tweeted out that southbound traffic is now flowing again on the Ridgewood Grade portion of the 101. However, CHP is still reporting that the southbound lanes are closed.
We are trying to get more information, but at the moment the situation is muddled.
UPDATE 7:43 p.m. — It appears the authorities will be shutting down northbound traffic on the 101, at about Uva Dr., which is just north of the West Rd. exit, right where the 101 begins to climb up the Ridgewood Grade. They are doing this to allow more personnel to traveling down the northbound lanes from Willits, to the scene. They will presumably be doing this briefly, and then reopen it.
It also appears that some of the people stuck on the freeway are being diverted across a break in the K-rails into the northbound lanes. People at the scene are reporting that traffic is beginning to very slowly crawl forward. But it’s not clear exactly how this is being accomplished.
UPDATE 7:15 p.m. — Sheriff Tom Allman has asked to stop the northbound traffic on the 101, so that he and other units can access the scene, from the Willits side, via the northbound lanes. It’s unclear if the northbound traffic will be stopped.
UPDATE: 6:40 p.m. — The BOLO vehicle, a green 1980s F150 with a camper-shell, and apparently the back window missing, has been spotted somewhere south of Hopland.* Scanner chatter cautioned that the driver might be armed and dangerous.
UPDATE 6:10 p.m. — The CHP is turning southbound motorists around at the top of the Ridgewood Grade, rather than letting them down into the stopped traffic. However, CalTrans is organizing traffic control to allow passenger vehicles, and only passenger vehicles, to drive around the scene. It is unclear how that will be done, but the CHP’s incident page is still reporting that traffic will be closed for a while.
Police are looking for an elderly white man with a white beard driving a 1980s green Ford F150 with a camper shell, the man is also described as “Grizzly Adams.” Scanner chatter also indicated that the man may have stopped to pick another person up at the scene of the shooting. We was last seen at about 4:30 p.m. in the southbound lanes of the 101.
It’s unclear if he is a witness or a suspect.
Still no word on who the victims were.
CalTrans has stated that they will be diverting some traffic into a northbound lane to get around the incident, but that the turn will be too tight for larger vehicles including big-rigs. Still, don’t hold your breath, it would be quite a while before traffic starts moving. In the mean time, the CHP is still apparently turning around southbound traffic at the top of the grade.
UPDATE 5:50 p.m. — Apparently there has been a fender bender amidst the traffic caused by the shooting and investigation into the shooting. Some personnel and resources have been diverted to this second incident, about half a mile north of the original incident.
UPDATE: At least one of the men shot on US Route 101 has died. Authorities are closing that portion of the road to conduct an investigation and have asked for assistance from CalTrans to reroute traffic. If you are heading south from Willits on the 101 expect delays for a long while.
The REACH copter landed at the site, and departed at about 5:20 p.m.
Scanner chatter indicates that southbound traffic remains stopped, and probably won’t be moving “for the foreseeable future.” Police are having trouble accessing the site of the investigation and shooting due to the traffic.
As far as we can tell northbound traffic remains open, though slowed significantly.
WILLITS, 7/2/18 — Two men shot, about halfway up the Ridgewood Grade, on Hwy. 101. It appears that the incident was initially reported as a car crash and was first reported at about 4:30 p.m. Southbound traffic is stopped and northbound traffic is very slow, expect a police presence to slow down traffic for quite a while.
They are closing the 101, at least southbound, to land a REACH ambulance helicopter, which will be landing on the pavement. However, scanner traffic indicates that it is likely at least one of the men is dead.
The MCSO is asking for aid from CalTrans to control traffic, given that a portion of the road will be tied up with the investigation for some time.
This situation is developing and we’ll be updating.
*Correction: An earlier version of this article mistakenly stated that the BOLO vehicle has been spotted near Gaberville, when it fact it was just south of Hopland.