Reports of an early morning vehicle chase and shots fired near Eel River Drive in Loleta drew a wave of attention from across Humboldt County Saturday.
Greg Conners, who lives on the 60 block of Copenhagen Road just outside Loleta, near where the vehicle chase took place, said he opened his door to let his dogs outside at about 6 a.m. Saturday morning to find his neighbor's yard full of law enforcement vehicles and an ambulance.
”Apparently we slept right through it, but there was a chase out here and shots fired,” he said. “Everyone's wondering what went on.”
No serious injuries stemmed from the incident, according to Humboldt County Sheriff's Office Lt. Steve Knight, but a man and woman -- identified as Elliot Michael Walin, 29, of Fortuna and Jill Deanna Winnop, 35, of Fortuna -- were arrested after reportedly failing to comply with a traffic stop and attempting to evade a sheriff ‘s office deputy.
Knight said the deputy was patrolling on Tompkins Hill Road at about 4:15 a.m. when he attempted to stop a black 2002 Honda two-door hatchback for erratic driving.
After the vehicle failed to stop, the deputy initiated pursuit, following the vehicle at speeds up to 65 mph until the Honda spun out of control at the corner of Eel River Drive and Loleta Drive.
The deputy exited his vehicle to arrest the couple, Knight said, but instead of complying, Walin, who was carrying a handgun, drove at the deputy and attempted to run him down. Knight said the deputy discharged his firearm at the vehicle, but did not hit either suspect.
The Honda ran over the deputy's foot before heading southbound on Eel River Drive.
The deputy continued pursuit, catching back up with the vehicle when it lost control again, this time at the corner of Eel River Drive and Copenhagen Road.
Walin, still carrying the handgun, and Winnop exited the Honda, fleeing on foot in opposite directions, Knight said.
Additional responding officers with the Eureka Police Department K-9 Unit were able to locate Walin hiding in a nearby drainage ditch, covered in mud.
Wanted on a no-bail probation violation warrant, Walin was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, resisting/obstructing an executive officer, evading a police officer and resisting arrest.
According to a sheriff's office release, Walin was recently released from California state prison due to realignment. The release also said Walin was bit by a dog with EPD's K-9 unit while officers were searching for him Saturday and he was transported to a local hospital for treatment before being booked into the Humboldt County jail, where he is being held without bail.
Deputies were also able to locate Winnop hiding in bushes nearby.
She was arrested on suspicion of resisting arrest and booked into the Humboldt County jail. Her bail has been set at $10,000.
The deputy whose foot was run over was evaluated at a local hospital and released. He is expected to make a full recovery.
According to the release, the deputy has been placed on administrative leave, as is standard protocol when an officer is involved in an on-duty use of deadly force. No injuries resulted from the deputy firing his weapon, the release said.
The Humboldt County Critical Incident Response Team, as well as investigators with EPD, the sheriff's office and the Humboldt County District Attorney's Office are investigating the incident. The sheriff's office is asking anyone with information about this case or related criminal activity to call the sheriff's office at 445-7251 or the sheriff's office crime tip line at 268-2539
Kaci Poor can be reached at 441-0504 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. SHAUN WALKER/THE TIMES-STANDARD
Investigators examine an officer-involved shooting suspect's car in Loleta on Saturday morning.
2. JOSÉ QUEZADA/FOR THE TIMES-STANDARD
From top, a bullet hole is seen in the back window of a Honda allegedly driven by Elliott Michael Walin, 29-year-old from Fortuna, which was abandoned at the corner of Eel River Drive and Copenhagen Road in Loleta.