(Photo courtesy Ventura County Aviation Unit)
UPDATED--A vehicle pursuit started with a routine traffic stop in Ojai and ended with the suspect plunging 150 feet over the side of Highway 33 in the Los Padres National Forest.
The incident began shortly before 4:30 PM Saturday when a male driver failed to yield when deputies tried to pull the vehicle over for a traffic violation at West Matilija and North Blanche streets in Ojai.
A pursuit went through surface streets in Ojai into Meiners Oaks, at times reaching 80 miles per hour with the suspect running at least one stop sign.
It then continued north on Highway 33 into the Los Padres National Forest where the suspect vehicle plunged off the highway into a deep ravine between Wheeler Gorge and Rosa Valley Road.
The suspect survived the crash and was rescued by deputies, firefighters and the sheriff's Air Squad 9 using a hoist operation to lift the driver out of the ravine and then airlifting him to VCMC with major injuries.
The CHP's special accident investigation unit known as SIRT was investigating the crash.
Ventura police say they made one arrest at a DUI/DL checkpoint Friday night and early Saturday morning.
The checkpoint was conducted between 8 PM and 3 AM on Thompson Boulevard west of California Street.
Police say that 337 vehicles went through the checkpoint and were screened.
They say 19 field sobriety exams were administered that resulted in the arrest of one driver with a blood alcohol level of .20 percent.
There were 13 citations issued, one vehicle was impounded because the driver had a suspended license.
One citation was issued for driving on a suspended license while three citations were issued for driving without a license or having an expired license.
Ventura police were looking for the knife wielding suspect who robbed a man in front of a bank ATM late Friday night.
It happened around 10:30 PM outside the Bank of America branch at 2698 E. Main Street.
Police say the 22-year-old victim had just gotten out of his vehicle and was walking over to the ATM when the suspect came up from behind, brandished a knife and demanded money.
The victim complied and the suspect fled on foot westbound in the alley to the rear of the bank.
Police say the victim waited about ten minutes before calling them and they responded officers to the scene.
The officers searched the area but did not find the suspect.
There were no injuries reported.
The only description given of the suspect was an unknown race male wearing a black hoodie and grey pants.
(Photo courtesy Ventura County Fire Department)
Updated--The brushfire that burned 50 acres Thursday near Casitas Springs was fully contained around 8:20 PM Friday night.
About 130 local, state and federal firefighters, including hand crews, engine companies and bulldozers, spent Thursday night and Friday morning working on containment lines and hot spots.
By Friday afternoon most had left.
Even though the fire is now 100 percent contained, crews will remain on scene through Friday night into Saturday to make sure all the hot spots are extinguished.
The fire started shortly before 2 PM Thursday afternoon and pushed by gusty winds and steep, rugged terrain, grew quickly to 50 acres in just three hours.
More than 150 firefighters from several agencies, helped by several water dropping helicopters, battled the fire and stopped it at 50 acres.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
A Ventura County judge Friday ordered trials for two defendants in what prosecutors say was a gang related killing near the County Fairgrounds in Ventura in 2013.
The authorities say that 18-year-old Gabriel Gutierrez of Ventura was found shot to death on the bike path near the Ventura River behind the fairgrounds on July 31, 2013, during the fair.
Ventura police said that Gutierrez and the two defendants, 27-year-old Erick Estrada and 20-year-old Timothy Adams, were involved in a verbal confrontation at the fair then left and walked to the area behind the fairgrounds where they got into a fight.
The authorities allege that during that fight Gutierrez was shot multiple times and died.
The suspects had fled the scene before police arrived.
Estrada was later identified as a suspect in the killing and arrested in jail where he was already facing attempted murder charges in another gang related shooting in west Ventura.
The authorities say Adams fled the state and was tracked down and arrested in Idaho and returned to Ventura County to face charges in the Gutierrez killing.
Adams is facing a gang related murder charge for Gutierrez killing but Estrada is facing those same charges plus a special circumstance allegation that could make him eligible for the death penalty if the DA pursues that.
He is also facing charges in connection with the attempted homicide shooting in the unrelated case.
Both men remain in jail with Estrada's bail set at $3.5 million and Adams's bail set at $510,000.
(From top to bottom, Pulido, Forrest, Cueva)
The Ventura County Sheriff's Department says three inmates have been arrested and charged in connection with what they say was a coordinated gang related assault on a rival gang member in a holding cell at the County Courthouse in Ventura.
Investigators say it happened on March 20th after three defendants had been taken from the jail to the holding cell for court appearances in their prior cases.
Deputies say that the three suspects, 27-year-old Jacob Pulido, 29-year-old Eric Forrest, and 20-year-old Gabriel Cueva, all from Ventura, are documented gang members.
The victim, who was housed at the Todd Road Jail, was placed in the same courthouse holding cell as the suspects.
Deputies say the victim is a documented member of a rival gang.
Investigators say there's a history of violence between the two gangs.
They say a deputy assigned to security at the courthouse saw Pulido use a unique sign language to communicate with Forrest and shortly after that Forrest allegedly battered the victim in the holding cell.
Deputies say after the first incident, the victim was placed back in the holding cell and was battered again, this time allegedly by Cueva.
The victim sustained minor injuries.
The DA's office has filed gang related battery charges against all three defendants.
The Ventura County Sheriff's Department says the death of a jail inmate who collapsed and died while in court a week ago appears to have been the result of a pre-existing medical condition.
They say an autopsy and investigation into the April 22nd death of 70-year-old Timothy Kicker of Simi Valley showed no indication of any violence or suspicious circumstances.
Deputies say that Kicker was in court a week ago to be arraigned on a DUI charge when he collapsed and died.
At the time he had been in custody since his arrest on the evening of April 20th.
Simi Valley police are warning residents of a recent series of residential burglaries that appear to be related.
They say there have been several over the past few months but there's been an increase lately in the north and northeast sections of the city.
The most recent burglaries have been in the late evening hours although overall they had occurred at any time of day.
Police say the suspects focus on homes where the residents are gone for the time being but they have entered homes where someone is there.
In those cases the suspects appeared to want to avoid confrontation and they fled.
Police say burglars usually look for signs that no one is home including locations with no lights on or where no vehicles are parked in the driveway.
Residents are reminded to immediately report any suspicious activity in your neighborhood.
They say burglars will often knock on the front door or ring the bell to make sure no one is home.
Anyone with information that could help in the investigation should call Detective Collett at (805) 583-6968.
(Photos courtesy Ventura County Aviation Unit)
Updated--The 50 acre brushfire burning near west Ventura is now 50% contained.
Crews will be out there all night completing containment lines and working on hot spots.
The fire was reported just before 2 PM Thursday afternoon near Ventura Avenue and Casitas Vista Road.
By 2:20 PM it had burned 3 acres and was growing.
By 2:40 it had burned 40 acres and was growing rapidly from west to east.
But by 5:15 PM only about 50 acres had burned so clearly firefighters had slowed the progress of the fire.
Firefighters from Ventura City and County were battling the fire along with hand crews and water dropping helicopters.
About 150 firefighters from several different agencies were assigned to the fire including a number of hand crews, engine companies and several water dropping helicopters.
Fixed wind air tankers had problems due to power lines in the area and the gusty winds.
All road closures were lifted.
The Teen Challenge facility was threatened but firefighters protected it and the fire moved past that area.
The are no structures in any immediate danger.
The fire has stayed to the east of Highway 33.
In addition to the high power lines, there is a 20 inch high pressure underground natural gas pipeline that runs beneath the power lines on the ridge where the fire is burning.
The forecast calls for gusty winds this evening but they should die down by morning and there's even a chance of low clouds and fog Friday morning.
No injuries reported.
Cause of the fire was under investigation.
A Ventura County jury has convicted an Arizona man of the extensive sexual abuse of a Ventura girl.
Prosecutors say that 41-year-old Richard Gonzales molested the girl for three years starting when she was five years old.
They say Gonzales was involved in a relationship with the girl's mother at the time.
The case came to the attention of the authorities after the little girl told a friend at school and the friend went to the school principal and reported it and the principal notified the authorities.
Gonzales is now facing life in prison when he is sentenced on May 20th.
A Moorpark man has admitted that while a member of the Ventura County Civil Grand Jury he submitted false time cards and forged the signature of the Grand Jury Foreman in order to get paid for time he was not working.
Prosecutors say that 85-year-old Robert A. Pesky served on the Civil Grand Jury for four years and was its treasurer for a time.
They say that during that time he submitted false time cards on four occasions for services as a grand juror on days he did not serve and then forged the signature of the grand jury foreman and submitted them to the county for payment.
They say he ripped off the taxpayers off for about $1,540.
Pesky pleaded guilty to misdemeanor grand theft and was sentenced to 30 days of home confinement with an ankle bracelet and three years summary probation.
Pesky paid full restitution.
The Civil Grand Jury's role is in part to make sure government is running efficiently and effectively and above board.
A female Ventura County Jail inmate has been charged with assaulting a deputy while in custody at the Todd Road jail near Santa Paula.
Deputies say 23-year-old Sarah Robledo of Camarillo was charged with battery on a peace officer, obstructing and resisting a peace officer.
They say during the incident on the night of April 13th, the deputy was directing two inmates in the housing unit hallway when Robledo allegedly failed to follow several directives and began to walk away.
Deputies say as the deputy tried to stop Robledo, she turned around and immediately started flailing her arms and tried to punch the deputy several times.
A second deputy responded and the two deputies were able to finally restrain Robledo.
The two deputies received minor injuries during the incident.
Deputies say that Robledo was originally in custody for second degree robbery, battery and resisting arrest and has been in jail since January.
She has pleaded not guilty to the latest charges and is due in court Friday for a preliminary hearing.
(Photo by Larry Raffaelli)
The wave-damaged Ventura Pier will be fully reopened Saturday morning.
On December 11th waves more than 20 feet high damaged a good portion of the pier, ripping away 20 timber pilings and shaking loose another 19.
It also destroyed or damaged 40% of the wooden and steele cross bracings.
Originally built in 1872 as a wharf for commercial use – and once the longest wooden pier at 1,958 feet – the Ventura Pier now measures 1,535 feet of steel and timber.
The ribbon cutting ceremony to reopen the pier will be at 10 AM Saturday and will feature several local officials.
Port Hueneme police are investigating a shooting incident in that city Tuesday night.
It was reported around 9 PM in the 600 block of Halyard Avenue near Sextant.
Police found a 26-year-old man suffering from a non-life threatening gunshot wound.
He was taken to Saint John's Medical Center and is recovering.
Police say the suspects fled the scene in a tan colored Chevy Suburban.
They continue to look for suspects and a motive.
Deputies in Camarillo say they've arrested a San Fernando Valley man for allegedly molesting a 15-year-old girl.
They say that 69-year-old Hahannes Farmanyan of Woodland Hills worked at a recycling center behind businesses in the 300 block of Arneill Road in Camarillo.
Deputies say during the past 2-3 weeks the girl had been playing with friends in the area of the recycling containers and had contact with Farmanyan.
Farmanyan is accused of conducting lewd acts with the girl during these encounters.
Deputies say during their investigation, they learned that Farmanyan had many other contacts with other children in the area of the recycling center and they are asking for anyone with additional information about Farmanyan to contact Camarillo Police.
A judge on Tuesday ordered a man to stand trial for a double shooting in east Ventura last December that left one person dead and another severely wounded.
30-year-old Brandon Ellis is charged with murder and attempted murder in the shootings that took place in a condo in the 1600 block of Tapir Circle on December 17, 2015.
47-year-old Douglas Blasher was killed and a 20-year-old woman was severely injured in the shootings.
Ventura police said that Ellis had a prior relationship with the woman.
She did not live at the condo where the shootings took place.
Ellis fled to Mexico after the shootings but was captured after someone in a bar at Rosarito Beach recognized him from media reports and called the authorities.
At his original arraignment, it was revealed that Ellis had allegedly flooded his cell at the Ventura County Jail and was found to be in possession of a handcuff key.
His bail remains at $5 million dollars and he remains in custody and is due back in court on May 10th to have a trial date set.
A Ventura County Grand Jury has indicted a suspect for murder in the death of a man in Oxnard last year.
47-year-old George Malone Jr. of Port Hueneme was arrested in the Ventura County Jail where he was already in custody for an unrelated crime.
The Grand Jury indictment charges Malone with murder in the October 27, 2015 stabbing death of 50-year-old Paul Blevins of Oxnard.
Malone is also charged with taking Blevins vehicle after he stabbed him.
Blevins was found in the 1500 block of South Oxnard Boulevard in the early morning hours of October 27th.
He was rushed to VCMC suffering from stab wounds and died at the hospital.
Malone was in court Monday but his arraignment was continued until May 9th.
He remains in jail on $1 million bail.
Simi Valley police are investigating a fatal crash.
It happened around 4:30 AM Tuesday on Alamo Street west of Sycamore Drive.
They say a silver-grey Chevrolet SUV traveling at a high rate of speed left the roadway, struck a retaining wall and then slammed into some trees.
The male driver, the only occupant of the vehicle, was pronounced dead at the scene.
His name has not been released yet.
The Simi PD traffic division conducted an extensive investigation into the incident that required the long term closure of Alamo in that area.
An Oxnard man was taken into custody early Tuesday morning after an eight hour standoff at a house.
Police responded around 5 PM to a report of a violent family dispute at a house in the 400 block of W. Juniper Street near C Street in Oxnard.
They were told that a young male family member had threatened one female family member with an axe and had battered another earlier in the day.
While police were investigating, family members escaped the house through a bathroom window and told police the suspect had come at them with a knife.
The suspect, 20-year-old Luis Gomez of Oxnard, refused to come out or even talk with police as they tried to get him to surrender.
Police surrounded the house, shut down Juniper and C streets and called in the Crisis Intervention team, SWAT, armored vehicles from Oxnard and Ventura and a K-9.
For hours they continued to try to make contact with Gomez but to no avail.
They tried flash-bang grenades and other tactics designed to get him to surrender.
Finally, the SWAT team deployed tear gas and the K-9 and went in and took Gomez into custody.
He was taken to VCMC to be checked out for injuries caused by the K-9 and was expected to be booked into the Ventura County Jail on a number of charges.
Ventura City Fire investigators are trying to determine the cause of a fire that destroyed a mobile construction office.
The fire was reported at 7:24 PM Monday in the 2400 block of Channel Drive in Ventura.
When firefighters arrived on scene they found the structure engulfed in flames with the fire threatening a nearby boat and construction materials.
Power lines above the fire were also damaged and began to arc in the gusty winds experienced in the area Monday.
Firefighters were able to extinguish the fire eight minutes after they arrived on scene.
No injuries were reported.
Deputies say that a disaster was narrowly averted Monday morning in Thousand Oaks when a driver suffered a medical emergency with two children in the vehicle and crashed onto the campus of an elementary school.
The incident happened at 8:12 AM in front of Wildwood Elementary School.
The vehicle was traveling eastbound on Avenida De Los Arboles approaching Velarde Drive when the 40-year-old male driver suffered a medical emergency and lost control.
The vehicle struck a curb before sideswiping another vehicle and then went over the curb and onto school property where it narrowly missed a crossing guard and two pedestrians.
The vehicle then collided with a large boulder, coming to rest on the front lawn of the school.
Off duty AMR paramedics rendered first aid to the unconscious driver.
The two small children in the vehicle were released to school officials to attend school.
The driver was taken to Los Robles Medical Center to be treated for his medical condition and was listed as stable.