Allied Agencies Respond to Terrifiying Flat-Tire Repair Incident in the Desert
PEARSONVILLE – Inyo County Sheriff’s Department Dispatch received a report on 08/24/2020, near 2:00 PM, of a man brandishing a firearm. A white male had approached a party who’d pulled off highway 395 to fix a flat tire near Sterling Road.
Originally, the man had asked, “Que pasa?,” but when informed that they didn’t speak Spanish, he walked away, only to lay down on the opposite side of the highway with a rifle aimed at the disabled vehicle.
Hoping to scare off the man, the alarmed party fired a warning shot into the air from a registered handgun. Seriously frightened, the driver slowly rolled the car southbound on its flat tire.
The reporting party described the armed gunman as a white male dressed in a light-colored long-sleeved flannel shirt, cargo pants, brown hiking boots, and wearing a straw hat. Law enforcement recognized the familiar suspect as Matthew David Hays (35).
Deputies quickly arrived near Hays’ residence, and only had to wait for a few moments for him to come out of his trailer. Holding a black rifle with a scope, he ignored multiple commands to drop the firearm.
Suddenly, the suspect ran toward officers, with the rifle in the low-ready position, and the muzzle slightly raised. Hays eventually headed north-westerly, walking into the desert.
A response from a CHP helicopter focused on Hays, but lack of fuel forced it to lose sight of him. A Mutual-Aid request provided assistance from Kern County Sheriff’s Office SWAT Team and Inyo County SED Team, along with assists from Mono SO, CHP, BLM, Forest Service LEO, Liberty Ambulance, and Olancha Volunteer Fire Department.
Alhough the area was scoured, the suspect was nowhere to be seen. A nearby abandoned building held the suspect’s discarded clothing and the rifle.
As a result, officers obtained a search warrant for Hays’ residence, which produced several pellet-gun rifles and a bb handgun. By this time, the expanse, now shrouded in darkness, had allowed the suspect to disappear.
An arrest warrant describes the Wanted Suspect as “White male, 6’2″, 165 lbs., with blue eyes and brown hair” and urges anyone with information to call Inyo County Sheriff’s Office 760-878-0383, option 4.