Humboldt County District Attorney
Humboldt County District Attorney (DA) Maggie Fleming has declined to prosecute the employee of the Patriot Gas Station in Blue Lake for killing the person who robbed that business on the night of July 2, 2020.
The employee has stated he acted in self-defense. No witness statements or other evidence contradict that assertion.
The employee also stated he possessed a gun in response to a recent prior robbery at his workplace. In reaching her decision before the person arrested had to be either charged or released – within 2 court days of their arrest – the DA benefitted from a complete and efficient investigation by the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office.
Earlier, in this week's Union:
Store robbery killing dismays Blue Lake
Mad River Union
BLUE LAKE – The shooting death of a robbery suspect at the Patriot gas station on Blue Lake Boulevard last Thursday has left the town reeling and full of questions.
Employee Mark Anthony Nelson, Jr. was arrested at the scene on suspicion of murder, possession of stolen property and being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. But some citizens are calling him a hero, and an online fundraiser has been launched for his defense.
According to the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office, on Thursday, July 2 at about 9:45 p.m., Humboldt County Sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to a business on the 200 block of Blue Lake Boulevard on a report of an armed robbery with shots fired.
Deputies arrived on scene and located a male subject with a gunshot wound to the chest. First responders performed lifesaving efforts on the subject, however, he succumbed to his injuries on scene.
HCSO criminal investigators responded to the scene to investigate the death as a homicide. Their investigation revealed that at about 9:40 p.m. the subject approached an employee and a patron of the business outside, brandishing a firearm in an attempt to rob the store. The employee and patron fled. The man then entered the store and proceeded to steal cash and other items.
Investigators believe that as the man exited the business, Nelson approached the subject and shot him. A stolen firearm believed to be associated with the homicide was recovered at the scene.
Nelson was arrested and booked into the Humboldt County Correctional Facility on suspicion of murder, possession of stolen property (the handgun) and convicted felon in possession of a firearm. He was being held without bail pending arraignment.
The decedent’s identity wasn’t known at press time Monday.
Reaction from Blue Lake residents ranged from dismay over a violent crime taking place in the community to outrage at Nelson’s arrest. On various online fora, Nelson was hailed as a friendly, helpful person and even a hero.
A GoFundMe page titled “Justice for a hero” held that Nelson had acted to “protect the store and his beloved community!”
Continued the page, “He is a hero in the eyes of the community, yet has been charged with ridiculous charges! His family is hurt and confused during this trying time.”
On the Blue Lake Community News and Crime Watch (299) Facebook page, Jason Crews, chair of Blue Lake’s Public Safety Commission, said the commission will meet Monday, July 13 at 6 p.m. in a Zoom meeting. Those wishing to may also attend at Skinner Store where the meeting will be projected.
Attendees are asked to wear a facial covering and practice physical distancing.
“We have been promoting neighborhood watch and would like to help facilitate the organizing,” Crews said. “Neighborhood watch is going to be an important part of our new direction.”