On Friday, Nov. 16 about 11:20 a.m. the Humboldt County sheriff’s office received a call from Blue Lake Casino security regarding a possible armed robbery involving one of their customers. When a deputy arrived they met with a 24-year-old man who resides in Garberville.
The victim told the deputies he was gambling at the Blue Lake Casino at approximately 6 a.m. when the two suspects approached him and sat down on gambling machines on either side of him. The suspects began talking with him and acted like they knew him.
During the conversation, they invited him outside to their vehicle for some alcohol since the casino was not serving alcohol at that time of the morning. The victim agreed to go outside with them to have an alcoholic drink after he cashed out his winnings. The suspects agreed to meet him outside.
As he left the casino he was met at the front door by the two suspects, who had been joined by a third suspect. A new model small red four-door vehicle pulled up. The victim got into the front seat of the car, and there were two males in the back seat. One of the men he met at the casino was driving the car; one of the men he met was now in the back seat along with the third he just met.
The driver, later identified as suspect Donald Lester, told the victim the casino had cameras in the parking lot so they had to leave so they would not get into trouble drinking there. He suggested they drive to Cher-Ae Heights Casino to see what was going on up there. The victim agreed and thought that was a good idea. The suspects told the victim they would bring him back to Blue Lake Casino.
When they arrived in the Westhaven area the suspects exited Hwy. 101 and pulled off the road on Scenic Drive. The driver, Lester, got out of the vehicle, walked around it, opened the passenger side door, and shoved a semi-automatic handgun into the victim’s mouth, while the victim was still seated.
The suspect seated behind the victim began beating him in the throat while repeatedly telling him to empty his pockets. The suspects then yanked the victim out of the vehicle and threw him on the ground. The suspects made the victim remove all his clothing except his underwear, pointed the handgun at him and told him to walk to the nearby cliffs. The suspects ordered the victim not to look at them while doing so. The victim was convinced the suspects were going to kill him, so he made a run for it.
The victim hid in the area until he believed the suspects were gone. He then walked back up the trail, found some articles of his clothing and contacted a citizen parked in a nearby parking lot. The citizen gave the victim a ride back to Blue Lake Casino where the victim notified casino security and law enforcement.
Blue Lake Casino security assisted the sheriff’s office with identifying the suspect vehicle and plate utilizing their security system. Deputies and a detective located the vehicle parked in the 4400 Block of Excelsior Road, Eureka. They located two of the suspects at a residence, Donald Lee Lester, age 27, from Arcata, and Zachary Michael Davis, age 25, from Fields Landing. Lester was found hiding in the attic of the residence.
Deputies conducted a probation search on the residence and located a black semi-auto handgun marked Smith and Wesson that shot simulated ammunition, 23 grams of tar heroin, seven grams of suspected methamphetamine, syringes, packaging material, 19 grams of dried marijuana and some of the victim’s property.