Man arrested after helicopter pursuit outside Sebastopol

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A 24-year-old man suspected of stealing a car and a laptop computer was arrested Saturday after he was tackled by a Sonoma County sheriff’s deputy who sprang from a helicopter to apprehend the suspect in a field outside Sebastopol.

Jacob Cyrus Sullivan of Sebastopol was arrested before noon after he was tackled by Deputy Chris Mahoney, Lt. Greg Miller said.

Sullivan is suspected of stealing a car on the outskirts of Sebastopol on Friday night and then losing control of the car near Canfield Road, south of the city, and crashing into a fence, Miller said.

The car became stuck and could not be driven, so the driver went to a nearby residence, where he attempted to break into two cars, Miller said.

A neighbor spotted the suspect around 8:30 a.m. and confronted him, Miller said. The man escaped into a nearby field, but the woman was able to grab a backpack he had been carrying.

“She ripped the backpack right off of his back,” Miller said.

Sheriff’s deputies and the Sheriff’s Office helicopter, Henry 1, were dispatched, along with a K-9 unit from the Santa Rosa Police Department. But the suspect hid along Blucher Creek, where it is heavily shaded by trees and brush, Miller said.

The search was called off after two hours. Around 11:30 a.m., a resident on Cunningham Road that borders the field saw a man running, and his description matched the suspect, Miller said.

Police again began setting up a perimeter and Henry 1 took flight. Pilot Paul Bradley was able to quickly land the helicopter in the field and Mahoney jumped out, sprinted across the field and tackled Sullivan as he tried to climb a fence, he said.

Sullivan was arrested on suspicion of auto theft and one charge of resisting arrest, Miller said. Police also discovered in the backpack a stolen computer taken during a recent Rohnert Park burglary, so Sullivan faces an additional charge of possession of stolen property. In addition, police found drugs in the backpack, though no charge has been filed as deputies were conducting tests Saturday afternoon, Miller said.

In addition, the CHP booked Sullivan on one charge each of vehicle theft and hit and run, Miller said. At the time of his arrest, Sullivan had a felony warrant for evading police and violation of probation, he said.

Almost two years ago, Sullivan was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving after he crashed into a fence and several parked cars around different Guerneville locations.

In that case, Sullivan crashed his girlfriend’s 1998 Saturn into a fence on Center Way, leaving behind a front bumper and a license plate, police said. He subsequently crashed into three other cars before he was found in the driver’s seat of the car stopped in the middle of First Street in front of the sheriff’s substation, police said.

The outcome of that arrest was not immediately clear Saturday.

Miller said it is unusual that a deputy would get off Henry 1 to follow a suspect on foot during a chase as opposed to allowing those in police cars responding to a pursuit. “We don’t have a lot of opportunities to do that,” he said.

But Miller said some circumstances Saturday made it a viable option. Those factors included having an open field in which to land the helicopter, that the perimeter had not been established by the time Henry 1 arrived, and that there was an additional tactical flight officer on board the aircraft besides Mahoney to help the pilot in the chase.

You can reach Staff Writer Bill Swindell at 521-5223 or bill.swindell@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @BillSwindell.

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