In the wee pre-dawn hours of December 8th, an observant Ventura Police Department patrol officer was cruising past Montalvo Elementary School just south of downtown Ventura when he spotted what the VPD Watch Commander described in a report to the media as “a suspicious vehicle” entering the school parking lot and coming to a halt.
Clearly alerted by the fact that school would not be in session for another 5 hours, the officer approached the vehicle and made contact with the female driver and her male passenger.
Once he determined that the driver did not possess a valid license to operate the vehicle, the officer—with probable cause at that point—conducted a cursory search of the vehicle which led him to suspect that there may be a firearm hidden somewhere inside the car. With the help of additional VPD officers on the scene, a thorough search of the car was made which didn’t reveal any weapons, but which failed to convince them of the absence of such in the possession of their suspects.
With sufficient manpower now, even though it was approximately 3:00 a.m. and dark, officers searched the parking lot area around the vehicle and discovered a loaded handgun on the ground nearby, along with “discarded illegal narcotics.” Further investigation revealed that the passenger in the car, Daniel Rockett, a 25-year old Oxnard resident, had indeed tossed the gun and the drugs out of the car immediately upon spotting the patrol unit approaching the parking lot. That effort to distance himself from the illegal items failed miserably, and Rockett was arrested on the scene and ultimately transported to Ventura County Jail and booked on charges of possession of a loaded firearm, carrying a loaded firearm in a vehicle, possession of a loaded firearm in a school zone, and possession of a controlled substance.
His female chauffeur was more fortunate, and was only cited for operating a vehicle without a license.
EdHat: Possession of a Loaded Firearm
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