Kevin L. Hoover
Mad River Union
ARCATA – Humboldt State University Police have arrested one young suspect, with more arrests expected in the paintball-shooting of a local photographer on July 27.
According to UPD, 18-year-old suspect Benjamin Clay Albright of Arcata was the driver of the SUV from which paintballs were fired. It struck Sean Patrick Leydon in the back and in his left eye, causing a serious injury from which he is still recovering.
HSUPD Chief Donn Peterson said that three others in the SUV, two young adults and a juvenile, have been identified and warrants issued, with arrests imminent.
None of the suspects are Humboldt State students. Peterson said he would work closely with the District Attorney’s Office to develop appropriate charges.
Peterson credited UPD Sgt. Chance Carpenter with “outstanding” police work. “He really did a good job of taking something that may not have gone anywhere, and elicted a confession from one subject,” Peterson said. “That broke it wide open.”
Carpenter credited community involvement for breaking the case. “You rely on tips,” Carpenter said. “We have a caring community.”
He said two tips in particular were “fortunate,” which he defined as “ones that really bear fruit.”
While UPD has seized what it believes is the paintball weapon used in the attack, it can’t be subjected to ballistic testing like conventional firearms.
Carpenter said the Leydon shooting correlates with another paintball incident on the Plaza that night, but he suspects that “there is more than one SUV with bad intentions out there.”
He said another citizen was egged by occupants of a dark-colored SUV three weeks provious to the Leydon incident.
Leydon is still recovering from the attack, with his eye pressure still too high for him to work, ride a bike or swim. He’s taking four different types of eye drops. The prognosis for his vision is uncertain.
“I’m not having a wonderful time,” Leydon said. “It super sucks. I’m alternately sad and depressed.”
He’s living with his girlfriend, a working student, for now. Leydon’s “Shot in the Face” GoFundMe web page has accumulated $1,270 as of Monday.
As for his alleged attacker, Leydon is also conflicted. “I hope this can be good for him,” he said. “I don’t want to see this kid get completely wrecked.”
Continued Leydon, “Why is there some part of me that cares about the guy who shot me?”
Chief Peterson commended Leydon for his “magnanimous” reaction. “The way he handled it is a credit to him,” he said.