Wednesday, 17 July 2024

REGIONAL: Man arrested for burglary after being discovered in cabin

LAYTONVILLE – A Willits man was taken into custody on Sunday for allegedly breaking into a cabin and confronting its owner when she arrived at the residence.

Joey Len Gunter, 36, was arrested for burglary, possession of stolen property, vandalism and being a felon in possession of a firearm, according to a report from Capt. Kurt Smallcomb of the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office.

On Sunday at 7:45 p.m. a 55-year-old woman returned to her cabin, located 13 miles out Spy Rock Road near Laytonville, in a very remote and inaccessible area of the county accessed through several locked gates, Smallcomb said. When she arrived she found a man she had never met before inside the cabin.

The woman confronted the trespasser – later identified as Gunter – and demanded he leave her house, Smallcomb said, but Gunter allegedly refused to leave and advanced aggressively toward her.

Smallcomb said the woman fired one warning shot into the air with a handgun, but the shot made no impression on Gunter, who continued to advance toward her.

The woman, who was accompanied by a male cousin, fled the area and contacted the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office. Smallcomb said the woman advised deputies that the subject who had taken over her home had been strangely aggressive and that he had access to firearms and ammunition inside the home.

Mendocino County Sheriff's deputies, assisted by a California Highway Patrol officer, responded to the cabin at approximately 10 p.m. Sunday, Smallcomb said. Due to the danger of confronting the potentially armed subject inside the home, a Mendocino County Sheriff's K-9 was sent into the home to apprehend the suspect.

MCSO K-9 "Dutch" apprehended the suspect in a bedroom, pulling the armed suspect to the ground, enabling officers to take Gunter into custody without a more serious use of force, Smallcomb said.

Gunter allegedly had armed himself with a .38 caliber revolver from the home, worn in a holster. Within arm's reach were a .30-.30 rifle and short-barreled 12-gauge shotgun. Smallcomb said all three weapons were loaded.

Deputies transported Gunter to the Mendocino County Jail, where he was booked on several felonies involving theft, vandalism, possession of stolen property and weapons violations.

The 12-gauge shotgun and a Yamaha four-wheel ATV found at the scene appeared to have been the product of other recent burglaries in the Spy Rock area, Smallcomb said. The suspect allegedly admitted to stealing from seven homes and seasonal-use cabins in the Spy Rock area over the last few months.

Anyone who has been the victim of a recent theft in that area or who has additional information regarding these crimes is asked to contact Deputy Clint Wyant of the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office at 707-459-7833.

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