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HCSO: Suspects wanted for string of armed robberies stealing vehicles, marijuana

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HOOPA, Calif. - The Humboldt County Sheriff's Office (HCSO) is investigating three armed robbery incidents that they believe were carried out by the same suspects over the course of two days.

The armed robberies occurred Thursday and Friday, and due to the similarities between the details surrounding each case, officials believe the same suspects committed the offenses. Each robbery involved victims reporting men in SWAT gear demanding money and marijuana. Also, in each of the three cases, two vehicles were stolen. A total of six vehicles have been stolen by the suspects, who are still at large.

The first incident occurred Nov. 2 at around 8:20 p.m., when HCSO deputies were dispatched to Bair Road in the Redwood Valley area for an armed robbery that had just occurred. Once on-scene, two victims told deputies that earlier in the day, they had stopped at the gate to their property just off Bair Road and while stopped, two males came out of the dark and pointed rifles at them.

According to HCSO, the victims said both males had their faces covered and were wearing SWAT-type gear. The victims described the suspects as white or possibly Native American, one in his late 20s and the other likely in his 30s or 40s, deputies said.

The men demanded money and marijuana, and the victims told them they didn't have either, HCSO said. The victims were ordered out of the two vehicles they had been driving and the suspects took their shoes, deputies said. The suspects then got into each of the vehicles and drove away. The suspects were last seen headed towards Hoopa, authorities said, adding that there was possibly a red Ford truck following them.

The two stolen vehicles in this incident are a 1991 blue Ford F-150 regular cab pickup with a California license plate number 6K24346, and a 2006 silver four-door Toyota Tundra pickup with a California license plate number 8B88852.

The next day, Nov. 3, a report also came into the HCSO about a group Spanish tourists who said they were robbed at gunpoint.

The tourists were visiting the Bald Hill Road area of the Redwood National Park and parked the two vehicles they were driving in a wide spot just east of the Lady Bird Johnson parking area. The group went on a hike and when they returned to their vehicles sometime between 2 and 4 p.m., they said were approached by a man wearing a tactical-style vest with "SWAT" written on the front of it, HCSO said. The victims said an additional suspect then walked toward them, armed with what they described as an assault rifle, according to authorities. The tourists said they were all ordered to lie on the ground while a third suspect walked up from behind them and fired four to five gunshots into the air, according to HCSO. The shots were in rapid succession, which led the victims to believe they were being fired from a fully-automatic weapon. According to sheriff's deputies, the tourists were ordered to empty their pockets, and their belongings along with both their vehicles were stolen. Lt. Mike Fridley with HCSO said the tourists had their cell phones taken, and were therefore only able to provide an approximate time frame for the robbery.

The first vehicle stolen from the Spanish tourists is a white 1998 Ford Explorer with a California license plate of 6EMC192. The second is a white 2001 Dodge camper van with a British Columbia license plate number LK7358.

According to HCSO, the victims provided the following descriptions of the suspects: One was a white male adult 30 to 40 years old, 5'7" to 5'9" and overweight. The second was not seen, only heard, but "used a lot of slang words and appeared younger," HCSO said. The third suspect was neither seen nor heard talking, but the victims believed this suspect to be the one that fired shots into the air.

The same day, another armed robbery occurred on Bald Hill Road, the same street as the incident involving the Spanish tourists, according to HCSO. This time, marijuana, two vehicles and personal property from employees at a legal cannabis grow operation were stolen, according to HCSO. On Nov. 3 at around 4 p.m., sheriff's deputies were dispatched to a report of an armed robbery on Bald Hill Road near Pine Creek Road. The land owner reported that one of his employees had sent him a text message saying they were in the process of being robbed.

According to HCSO, the land owner claimed he had a permitted marijuana grow where the robbery was taking place.

"It was reported that three Native American-looking men all under 6 feet tall, wearing tactical style gear with the word SWAT, had come onto the property," according to HCSO.

According to deputies, the suspects were armed with AR-15 and AK-47 rifles. More than 30 workers on-site were forced to lay on the ground and remove all their personal property, according to officials. All of their personal property and around 1000 pounds of marijuana was stolen along with two vehicles, HCSO said.

According to deputies, two of the suspects referred to themselves as "Killer 1" and "Killer 2." They were last seen headed eastbound on Bald Hill Road toward Hoopa.

Deputies said one of the stolen vehicles is a white 2001 Chevrolet 2500 four-door pickup with a matching canopy and a California license plate number, 6P95768. The second stolen vehicle is a black 1996 Ford Explorer with a California license plate number, BBT9437.

Lt. Fridley said he is unsure of the order in which the two robberies occurred on Nov. 3, but guesses that the group of tourists were attacked first. Due to the tourists' phones being stolen, it was difficult for them to provide the exact time of the attack.

These incidents are still under investigation. The sheriff's office is asking for help from the public. If any of the suspects or six stolen vehicles are seen, please immediately call 911. These suspects are considered armed and dangerous.

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