Most arrests involve an officer locating their suspects and taking them into custody without further incident, but every day those who serve in law enforcement know that some of the suspects are going to put up a fight, and that their lives are in constant danger if they aren’t vigilant against trouble. Two recent incidents reported from the Mendocino County Sheriff’s office demonstrated the risks involved in dealing with criminals. Fortunately none were seriously injured.
On Monday, October 13 at 12:35 in the afternoon, deputies were dispatched to a property out on Reynolds Highway, a road in northeast Willits, a town in inland Mendocino County along Highway 101. The deputies arrived at the home in the sparsely populated countryside and spoke to a homeowner who had called in a report of a burglary. Coming home, the resident said that a U-Haul truck had been parked right in front of the house, and two men were inside. After checking the house, they found it had just been burglarized, but the truck was gone. The homeowner tried to find the truck but could not.
After taking the report, deputies were preparing to leave, and a new report of a burglary came in, this time from a home at the southeast side of town, along Wild Iris Lane, which is further into the foothills and forested area. The location is about 7 miles from the Reynolds Highway home. The man there told a similar story – he came home to find a U-Haul parked in his driveway. He, however, spoke to the two men, who told him they were looking for an address, and left before the man entered his home. He reported their descriptions as matching the others in the earlier incident. The homeowner told deputies that once he got inside, he found several items moved around, but that nothing appeared to be missing.
As if to send them on a Willits scavenger hunt, yet another call came in that afternoon, at 2:10 pm. This one reported the suspicious U-Haul, now on Muir Mill Road in central Willits. This time, the truck was there when they arrived, and two men were sitting in it. But as a deputy left his patrol car, the truck suddenly came towards him. As the truck accelerated, the deputy jumped out of the way, and narrowly avoided being hit. Another patrol car was soon there, and managed to get the driver to stop, but the two men refused to come out. As that deputy pulled his taser, the driver once again took off, crossing Highway 101 onto Baechtel Road. Deputies pursued him as he headed north, and followed Baechtel around back to the 101 where he turned right, took an immediate left on Holly, and left again on Locust.
The chase continued down Locust, back down nearly to where they started. Locust, however, turns into a dirt road and ends at an area known as Muir Canyon. The men gave up the truck, headed out on foot, but did not go far.
By then, Highway Patrol officers had arrived on scene to assist, and found the suspects trying to hide in the dry creek bed near the truck. They didn’t put up any further fight, however, and were soon taken into custody. In addition to stolen property, a firearm was found in the U-Haul truck. The two men, identified as Joshua Justice Hayes, 43 of Arcata, and Solomon Cedric Woods, 40 of Eureka, were arrested and booked into the Mendocino County Jail. They were charged with burglary, possession of stolen property and burglary tools, conspiracy, assault on a peace officer, evading an officer, and being an ex-felon with a firearm. Bail was set at $175,000 for Woods, and $280,000 for Hayes.
Deputies encountered more trouble this week, when they were called to Laytonville on Monday morning at 9:00 am. A report had come in of an “unwanted subject” at a farm property located along Highway 101, likely the Circle 101 Ranch. Deputies arrived and found 32-year-old Arik Caldwell, who appeared to be intoxicated and did not respond to the deputies’ requests. His speech was blurred and unintelligible. As they attempted to detain him and remove him from the property, he became increasingly aggressive, and began punching and kicking at them.
As the struggle continued, Caldwell grabbed for the items on one deputy’s belt, and grabbed the Taser weapon he was trying to deploy. Three deputies sustained minor injuries in the scuffle before finally handcuffing and subduing Caldwell. The Laytonville resident was arrested and taken to a nearby hospital for treatment of his injuries, and was later booked at the Mendocino County Jail on charges of resisting arrest by means of violence.