A Mendocino Coast man suspected of a Sunday roadside shooting that killed his former girlfriend was apprehended Monday, following a 22-hour search that ended after his pickup was spotted in Glenn County, a Mendocino County sheriff’s official said.
Andrew Crowningshield, 27, of Little River was arrested about 7 a.m. Monday in Elk Creek as he walked along rural Highway 162 near the Mendocino National Forest, Lt. Shannon Barney said. His parked pickup was nearby.
Detectives suspect Crowningshield gunned down his former girlfriend Autumn Smith, 22, of Fort Bragg, at a dirt pullout along southbound Highway 1 near Little River just after 9 a.m. Sunday. They also suspect he tried to shoot a man in Smith’s car, 35-year-old Daniel Alonso of Fort Bragg, who fled the scene and called 911, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
With Crowningshield in custody, detectives can now focus on investigating what led to the roadside violence, Barney said.
An autopsy for Smith, who also used the surname Johnson, was scheduled for Tuesday.
Crowningshield and Smith have a 3-year-old son, and they shared custody of the boy after breaking up more than a year ago, officials said.
Alonso told detectives he and Smith were heading south from Fort Bragg in her car Sunday morning when they noticed Crowningshield in his pickup near Casper, and he started following them, according to a Sheriff’s Office news release.
Smith pulled over just south of Little River “to talk to Crowningshield about their child and when she could pick up the child,” according to the statement.
“She approached Crowningshield’s vehicle and, for reasons unknown at this time, Crowningshield fired numerous rounds at Smith, who fell to the ground.“
Alonso, still seated in Smith’s car, said Crowningshield shot at him too. He fled, driving to the Heritage House Resort to seek help.
Crowningshield left the scene. Law enforcement issued a “be on the lookout” bulletin for the man and his lifted Ford F-350 long-bed, diesel pickup. Officials released his license plate number, asking anyone spotting the truck to call 911, warning Crowningshield could be armed with a handgun.
Tips led detectives to suspect he fled the area on Comptche Ukiah Road headed north toward Lake Pillsbury, taking roads through remote Mendocino National Forest, Barney said.
Glenn County sheriff’s deputies arrested Crowningshield Monday morning after receiving a tip from someone who spotted his distinctive white-and-teal pickup on Highway 162.
Mendocino County detectives traveled to Glenn County to interview Crowningshield and bring him to Ukiah.
Barney declined to say whether police had recovered the suspected murder weapon.
Staff Writer Randi Rossmann contributed to this report.
You can reach Staff Writer Julie Johnson at 707-521-5220 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @jjpressdem.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help Autumn Smith's family. To donate, go here.