The following is a press release issued by the Willits Police Department
On 12/8/20 at approximately 5:30pm, Willits Police Department (WPD) Officers were dispatched to the Burger King at 1355 S. Main St. in Willits. The call originated from a retired Sonoma County Sheriff’s Deputy who observed two suspects in a Black SUV take a bag of possible marijuana from the occupants of a white SUV while they were in the parking lot of the Burger King. As WPD officers were responding to the location they were further advised via dispatch that the suspects had fled the location and were northbound on Main Street in the black SUV.
WPD officers deployed to various locations around the city looking for the suspect vehicle while dispatch put out information from various citizens indicating they had seen the black SUV driving erratically on and around Main street and other streets in town. An off duty Lake County DA investigator notified dispatch thet he saw the vehicle northbound on the 300 block of Main street and followed it to the northbound Highway 101. Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) deputies responded and they picked up the vehicle around Reynolds Highway, approximately 4 miles north of Willits. When sufficient units were behind the vehicle an attempt to stop it was made at Shamrock Ranch. The suspects pulled to a stop at first and then attempted to flee at a high rate of speed. The suspect was pursued into the town of Laytonville. At one point while driving at speeds estimated at over 100 mph, the suspects attempted to turn into the parking lot of a business. The driver lost control and the vehicle struck the structure of the “Park-N-Takit”. Both suspects exited and fled from the vehicle and ran westbound through the middle school jumping over fences and continued heading westbound in the direction of the Fire Department. Officers from WPD and MCSO deputies gave chase and established a perimeter around the area. MCSO K-9 “Bo” was deployed and tracked the suspects from the vehicle for several miles.
A Laytonville citizen called in and related that they saw a subject in grey sweatpants and a dark sweatshirt with a hoodie running from the Fire Department and was now around Geiger’s Market. Officers searched the area and located an individual who identified himself to officers. The subject was observed to have minor injuries to his hands indicative of someone jumping fences. During his detention, there was documentation found on him with a name different than what he had provided. Officers were advised by other officers at the scene of the traffic collision that they had found other documentation with the name of Christian Flores. This matched the name the officers had found on the subject they found, proving the first name he gave them was false.
The suspect was arrested and transported to WPD Station where the original victims from the Burger King identified him as one of the suspects involved in the robbery. Suspect Flores was treated for his minor injuries and subsequently booked into the Mendocino County Jail. His charges include 211PC (Robbery), 182PC (Conspiracy) and 11360(a) H&S (Sales and Transportation of Cannabis.
WPD officers are continuing to follow up clues and evidence in order to identify and apprehend the second suspect involved in this matter. At this point in the investigation, neither of the suspects appear to be local. The suspect, a white male Hispanic, approximately 25 years of age, was booked under the name of Christian Flores.
The Willits Police Department would like to extend its gratitude and assistance in this case from the numerous citizens of Willits and Laytonville who alerted law enforcement as to the suspects’ location. We also extend our gratitude for their assistance to the MCSO (both deputies and Bo), CHP, Lake County DA investigator and the retired Sonoma County deputy who first observed and acted upon the suspect’s actions. Without any of their help, this case would not have been made possible.
Anyone having any information on this case is urged to contact the Willits Police Department at (707)459-6122, Officer Kris Kersmanski.