Pot grower in Mendocino County suspected of gun threat
Published: Friday, August 31, 2012 at 11:59 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, August 31, 2012 at 11:59 a.m.
A Sonoma County man apparently bent on protecting a marijuana grow in a fire evacuation area outside Covelo was arrested Thursday for suspicion of threatening a firefighter with a shotgun, authorities said.
The Cal Fire employee was documenting damage and conducting fire suppression work in a vacant field near the edge of the Mendocino National Forest and the North Pass fire when a man drove up and ordered him to go away, the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office said.
The firefighter already had noticed a small pot garden in the area but was attending to fire suppression activities with a marked Cal Fire vehicle, authorities said.
The area also was clearly marked with a mandatory evacuation order when Santa Rosa resident Veda Bennett-Swank, 21, drove up to the firefighter, demanded he leave and glanced down at a shotgun he was holding between his legs and pointing directly at the firefighter, the sheriff's office said.
The firefighter fled and notified authorities, who found a similar vehicle at a nearby residence.
Bennett-Swank admitted confronting the firefighter and was arrested for suspicion of brandishing a firearm in a threatening manner, making criminal threats, and interfering with emergency personnel at a fire.
He also admitted growing marijuana and knowing the area had been evacuated, authorities said.
Bennett-Swank was being held at the Mendocino County Jail with bail of $20,000, authorities said.
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