Keith’s Market in Covelo
Before night fell on Halloween, a man in Covelo, a small town in inland Mendocino County, caused quite a disturbance and assaulted a local market employee who tried to stop him from stealing from the store.
It was 5:30 in the afternoon on Saturday, October 31 just as dusk began to fall, when someone from Covelo called the Mendocino County Sheriff’s office to report a man acting strangely. But this was no Halloween hooligan playing pranks; witnesses believed he was on drugs.
The people told the deputies that a thin man, over 6 feet tall and with long, shaggy hair, had come into Keith’s Market, a grocery store in the small downtown area, and was speaking to both employees and shoppers in a confused, rambling manner. He was also described as aggressive and confrontational. According to the Sheriff’s office, when an employee contacted him to say he was disturbing the customers, the man threatened to harm him. He had with him a broken mop handle, and used it as a spear, pointing the sharp end at the employee in a stabbing motion.
The disturbed individual then left the market, but managed to climb up to the roof of the brick building. After a few moments, he climbed back down, and headed across the road to the Redwood Market, a gas station with a convenience store. He went inside the store area, grabbed an item and walked out. A Redwood Market employee confronted him to prevent the theft, but the man punched the clerk in the face. The assault victim called out for help, and a few of the customers on the scene came to his aid.
While they all restrained the man, another employee called 911 for help. But as they waited, the captured man relaxed a bit, causing his captors to also relax their hold after restraining him for several minutes. That was the opening he wanted, and he broke free and ran away from the scene.
When deputies arrived they took statements and descriptions, and began a search of the area, but the suspect could not be found. The man who had been hit in the face did not require medical attention for his minor injuries.
The search was still ongoing the next day, and at 1 pm, a man matching the description was found walking in the rural area northeast of downtown, along Barnes Lane, about 2 miles from the scene of the assault. He was detained and identified as 28-year-old Charlie Crawford, currently residing in Reno, Nevada.
Despite his Reno address, Crawford was no wandering stranger to the area. He had been arrested just a few months earlier, on March 28, by California Highway Patrol officers out of the Garberville station, a town a little north on Highway 101 in Humboldt County. He was charged with driving an unregistered vehicle, without license plates, carrying no insurance and without a drivers license.
A year earlier, in October 2014, Mendocino Sheriff’s deputies had arrested him for selling and transporting methamphetamine, driving with a suspended license, and for failure to appear in court on an earlier charge. He was then living in Cottonwood, a town in southern Shasta County along the Interstate 5 Freeway.
Earlier available arrest records show that while living in Anderson, the city just north of Cottonwood, he was arrested in 2006, when he was 19-years-old, and charged with grand theft of lost property, and for failure to report to a work release program from an earlier conviction. In 2008 he was charged with disturbing the peace by fighting, vandalism, child cruelty or endangerment, and violating his parole. Later that year he was pulled over for a seat belt violation, and charged with false personation of another.
When the deputies located him on Sunday afternoon, he was confirmed to the suspect in the Halloween day incidents, arrested and booked into the Mendocino County Jail on charges of strongarm robbery, making criminal threats, and brandishing a weapon. He also had three out of county warrants, and was charged with violating parole. He is being held on $96,000 bail.