Tourists falsely report armed robbery over association with pot activities

Bald Hills Road, Lady Bird Johnson trailhead

HUMBOLDT COUNTY, Calif. - The report from tourists that they were robbed at gunpoint near the Lady Bird Johnson trailhead of Redwood National and State Parks on Nov. 3, was not true, according to state park officials.

When park law enforcement rangers were first notified, they say they began investigating the area along Bald Hills Road where the incident allegedly took place. They said they began comparing its time frame with similar incidents reported outside the boundaries of the park.

According to the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office, the group of tourists reported that they 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. Deputies said 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.

However, while the victims claimed multiple shots were fired from an assault-style rifle, park law enforcement said their investigation did not turn up any shell casings on the ground. Also, National Park Service employees in the area at the same time as the alleged robbery did not hear any shots fired, according to officials.

Park law enforcement rangers said they were able to contact the five tourists, through a third party, and they admitted they fabricated the park robbery story because they were concerned about being associated with activities at a local marijuana operation.

According to park law enforcement, they are continuing their investigation into the matter along with the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office.