Sonoma Springs shelter-in-place suspects in custody

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A suspect is still at large following a Sunday afternoon cash-for-cannabis rendezvous that turned into a fistfight, gun threat, arrest and escape, and finally a manhunt that put Agua Caliente and El Verano residents on edge as a “shelter in place” alert was issued shortly after 4 p.m. on Aug. 25.

The incident began earlier in the afternoon, said Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office officials, when several people who arranged a marijuana deal through Snapchat met at an agreed-upon location in the 400 block of Agua Caliente Road West. A man who the deputies described as the victim handed over a quantity of cannabis to three men and asked for payment.

One of the three showed him a handgun tucked into his waistband and refused to pay. “A physical fight amongst all four people ensued and carried out into the street,” said Misti Wood of the Sheriff’s Office in a release issued Monday afternoon. “The victim was punched and kicked by multiple people and hit in the back of the head with a gun.”

Guillermo Hurtado, 18, a recent Sonoma Valley High School graduate, was identified by witnesses as the armed man in the fight, but the victim said a 16-year-old juvenile, one of the three men in the conflict, was the one who struck him with the gun.

Hurtado was seen driving away in a Toyota Prius, while the other two men ran away on foot.

The juvenile identified by the suspect was known to police, and was on probation. Deputies went to his home in Agua Caliente and found him there, along with three other people, but the third suspect was not among them. The 16-year-old was taken by patrol car to the Sheriff’s substation on Grove Street for questioning.

One of the responding deputies recalled that Hurtado and the 16-year-old had recently been pulled over by deputies for a traffic stop. Deputies soon located the Prius and arrested Hurtado and took him to the Sheriff’s substation as well.

Following his interrogation, the juvenile was led to a patrol car inside the substation’s gated parking lot. An argument ensued and the youth slipped away from the deputy when he tried to apply handcuffs, leaping over the fence into the El Verano neighborhood. He also slipped an ankle monitor he had been wearing for surveillance while on probation.

Deputies chased the youth in a patrol car but he eluded them in the residential community. The Sheriff’s helicopter Henry-1 was called out for aerial search, and the shelter-in-place alert was issued at 4:08 p.m.

Within minutes, a pedestrian reported seeing the youth on nearby Quigley Lane, and deputies determined he was hiding in an RV on that bock. After deputies ordered him to give up, he came out and was arrested. He was given medical attention before being booked as he had sustained a minor injury during his escape attempt.

Hurtado was booked into Sonoma County jail without incident on charges of felony robbery and conspiracy with initial bail set at $100,000. The juvenile faces similar felony charges on robbery and conspiracy in addition to two escape charges.

The third individual in the conspiracy and attack has not yet been located. Anyone with information is asked to call sheriff investigations at 565-2185, and ask for Detective Joey Horsman of the Violent Crimes division.

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