The week in public safety, Dec. 21, 2016

Arcata Fire's admin offices move to McK

ARCATA/McKINLEYVILLE – Effective Friday, Dec. 16, the Arcata Fire District has moved its administrative offices to the newly remodeled McKinleyville Fire Station at 2149 Central Ave.

Following the move from Arcata, the administrative offices will remain closed through Dec. 26 and reopen at 8 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 27.  Arcata Fire will continue to use the same phone number, (707) 825-2000.

The Arcata Fire Station at 631 Ninth St. will continue to be staffed 24/7 by firefighters, and crews at the temporary station on School Road McKinleyville will be relocated to the remodeled station on Central Avenue.

Arcata DUI suspect to alter plea

Paul Mann
Mad River Union

EUREKA – A change of plea hearing is scheduled for Jan. 11 in Humboldt County Superior Court in the alleged drunken driving death last September of the respected Arcata music engineer Alan Edward Gradwohl, who was 55 years old.

Suspect Robert Willard Bergeson III, 24, entered his change of plea request Dec. 5, pending recommendations by the Probation Department.

Bergeson was released on his own recognizance, unlike James Arthur Merrick II of McKinleyville, held on $1 million bail and charged with the hit-and-run murder Dec. 14 of 16-year-old Tessa Gingerich, also of McKinleyville. She was a student at Pacific Coast High School, according to the Times-Standard.

In the fatal Gradwohl collision, Bergeson originally pleaded not guilty in September to vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and driving under the influence. He was arrested by Arcata Police when they found Gradwohl dead at the scene at 14th and H streets in Arcata about 7:15 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 4 (Union, Sept. 13).

Police breath tested Bergeson’s blood alcohol level at 0.16-0.17 percent, twice the legal limit of 0.08 percent. They found his Honda van on H Street and reported he was cooperative with responding officers.

According to the arrest report, Bergeson was proceeding west on 14th Street at H Street. He turned south on H and struck Gradwohl, who had moved back to Arcata in October 2015.

Gradwohl was the sound engineer for the band Kingfoot. He previously lived in Arcata from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s.

Grinches caught on tape, then caught

Mad River Union

EUREKA – Two men who allegedly stole two bins full of toys for needy children from the Bayshore Mall last week were arrested in the days following their Grinchy heist.

At 10 p.m. Monday, Dec. 12, surveillance cameras at the Eureka mall captured images of two adult men walking out of the mall with the Toys for Tots bins. The men were last seen running north on Broadway.

The next day, Dec. 13, at 11:54 a.m., detectives with the Problem Oriented Policing Unit of the Eureka Police Department spotted one of the suspects – identified as Robert Cochran III, 33, of Eureka – on the 2700 block of Broadway. According to Eureka Police, Cochran was still wearing the same clothes as seen on the surveillance video and was allegedly in possession of some of the stolen toys. Cochran was arrested on suspicion of possession of stolen property and for violating probation.

By Wednesday morning, Dec. 14, detectives caught up with the second suspect, Steven Danielson, 31, of Eureka. With the assistance of the California Department of Fish & Wildlife and the U.S. Coast Guard, Danielson was located near the foot of Pound Street in Eureka. Although Danielson was not in possession of any of the toys, he was found with possessions linked to several car burglaries.

Danielson was arrested on suspicion of resisting arrest, possession of stolen property, being a felon in possession of tear gas and for a probation violation.

Broken glass policing

Arcata Police Department 

ARCATA – On Tuesday, Dec. 13 at approximately 2:20 a.m., an Arcata Police Officer was patrolling near the Union Town Shopping Center, 600 F St., when he heard the sound of glass breaking.

The officer approached the area on foot and discovered a glass door panel had been broken out of one of the businesses. As the officer approached the storefront, an individual was spotted exiting through the broken front door. The person, who was later identified as Silver Bonner, 18, of Hollywood, fled from the officer. She was taken into custody a short distance away.

While officers were detaining Bonner, a second subject, who was identified as Robert Abner, 18, of Puente Calif., was seen exiting the business. Abner also fled from the officers, but was eventually located and arrested some distance from the scene.

The subsequent investigation revealed Abner was allegedly responsible for two additional commercial burglaries in Arcata.

Bonner was booked into the Humboldt County Correctional Facility for on suspicion of burglary and conspiracy. Abner was booked into the Humboldt County Correctional Facility for on suspicion of burglary, conspiracy and resisting arrest.


Car burglar foiled

Arcata Police Department 

ARCATA – On Tuesday, Dec. 13 at about 10:30 p.m., officers from the Arcata Police Department responded to the 900 block of Eighth Street on the report of a vehicle burglary in progress.

Officers arrived on scene and observed an adult male subject running from the area and detained him. Officers quickly located a stash of property in the area that the suspect was seen running from. An officer contacted the citizen who reported the incident and they positively identified Jeremy Todd Butler, 40, from Arcata as the suspect.

The owner of the vehicle was contacted and he identified the property found by officers as having been inside his truck.

Butler was transported to the Humboldt County Correctional Facility where he was booked and lodged on charges of grand theft; misappropriation of found property; felon in possession of pepper spray; possession of a narcotic; possession of paraphernalia; tampering with a vehicle and violation of probation.

It was subsequently found that Butler, who is on probation, also had four warrants for his arrest.

The Arcata Police Department would like to thank the watchful citizen whose quick thinking led to the apprehension of the suspect and the return of the victim’s property.


Students pepper sprayed

Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office

McKINLEYVILLE – On Wednesday, Dec. 14 at approximately 12:35 p.m., Humboldt County Sheriff’s deputies responded to McKinleyville Middle School for a report of multiple students pepper sprayed by a male juvenile suspect. It was reported the juvenile suspect fled on foot on Central Avenue.

Deputies responded to the middle school where they met with several juvenile victims. It was determined the juvenile victims and juvenile suspect were in the cafeteria when the incident occurred. Two of the juvenile victims had to be taken to a local hospital for treatment.

While deputies went to the school to meet with victims, additional deputies searched for the juvenile suspect. Deputies located the juvenile suspect on Central Avenue at Hartwood and arrested him without incident. The juvenile suspect was taken to Juvenile Hall where he was booked for illegal use of teargas, and assault and battery on school grounds.

This case is currently under investigation. Anyone with information for the Sheriff’s Office regarding this case or related criminal activity is encouraged to call the Sheriff’s Office at (707) 445-7251 or the Sheriff’s Office Crime Tip line at (707) 268-2539.

Stabbing and arrested

Arcata Police Department 

ARCATA – On Friday, Dec. 16 at about 2:24 p.m., the Arcata Police Department received a report of a stabbing victim in the area of Samoa Boulevard and H Street. Upon the officer’s arrival, they located a 44-year-old man with multiple stab wounds to his back and upper chest. The officers began administering first aid to the victim until the arrival of emergency medical staff.

Due to the victim’s injuries, the officers were unable to get much information from him on what had occurred. The officers began checking the immediate area for witnesses and evidence. An officer noticed that a nearby business had a video camera facing the area where the victim was located. Upon review of the video, the officers could see the suspect stab the victim. The suspect was identified as Jessica Vaverka, 28, of Arcata.

Vaverka was on scene and had initially identified herself as the victim’s girlfriend. She was taken into custody without incident. Vaverka was transported to the Humboldt County Correctional Facility, where she was booked for attempted homicide and probation violation.

The victim was admitted to the hospital and was listed in stable, but guarded condition.

Any witnesses to the incident are encouraged to contact the Arcata Police Department at (707) 822-2424.



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