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Law enforcement search for Ukiah carjacker called off in Hopland

(PD FILE, 2007)

KEVIN FIXLER,

A suspected carjacker eluded law enforcement officers in Mendocino County Tuesday evening after abandoning a stolen truck in the Hopland area near the Pieta Creek drainage off Highway 101.

According to dispatch reports, the male suspect wore a bandanna over his face and used a firearm as he stole a pickup in Ukiah at about 2 p.m.

The CHP, who had officers involved along with the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office, later confirmed the vehicle was a 2005 Ford F-250.

The suspect led police on a high-speed chase south on Highway 101 — at times reaching speeds of 100 mph, according to dispatchers — before turning around and evading a police pursuit on a side road south of Hopland Sho-Ka-Wah Casino.

Officer Olegario Marin, spokesman for the CHP in Ukiah, confirmed that police came across the unattended truck about 3 p.m.

According to police reports into dispatch, officers found what appeared to be fresh footprints leading into the creek, which was later confirmed when another officer involved in the search spotted the suspect on the north side of the creek just after 4 p.m.

The reporting officer described the suspect as wearing a black hat, brown jacket and light blue pants. Two CHP helicopters conducted passes of the area until approximately 5 p.m., dispatch later confirmed, but did not locate the suspect, who police considered armed and dangerous.

CHP cleared its units in the area at 5:05 p.m., according to a member of dispatch staff.

A sergeant with the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office said the agency called off its search as night fell.