A suspected auto thief who was tracked from Windsor in a stolen vehicle and then threatened to kill two Sonoma County sheriff's deputies who stopped him near Petaluma was at the center of a large-scale law enforcement search in rural west Marin County on Friday, authorities said.
The man claimed to be armed with a gun when he threatened the deputies who stopped him outside Petaluma about half an hour after the SUV was first reported missing, sheriff's Lt. Tim Duke said.
He escaped after deputies twice hit him with a Taser stun gun, which had no apparent effect, Duke said.
Marin County officials said about two dozen law enforcement personnel from a variety of agencies were participating in a search for the subject in a hilly, wooded area around Woodacre, west of Fairfax, after he abandoned the car hours later.
The suspect was spotted a few times both by law enforcement and civilians around mid-day, but the densely wooded, uneven terrain obstructed his capture, Marin County Sheriff's Lt. Keith Boyd said.
"Due to the nature of the terrain, it's difficult to close the distance," Boyd said.
The search was canceled around 5 p.m. after the man had not been seen since 1:30 p.m.
A local Montessori school had opted to close for the day because of the law enforcement operation, he said. Another nearby school, San Geronimo Valley Elementary, was on lockdown, he said.
The suspect, described as a ponytailed white man in his 20s or 30s, about 5-foot-8 and weighing about 160 pounds, was on foot, having abandoned the vehicle, Boyd said.
"We're treating him as potentially armed, due to the incident in Sonoma County and his behavior and statements made to law enforcement," he said. "But we have not seen a firearm at this time."