Authorities are searching a 5-square mile stretch of central California in what has become a weeklong manhunt for a gunman reportedly behind a killing, a kidnapping, and the wounding of two sheriff’s deputies.
Over 100 law enforcement officials have been surveying the desolate desert area on the ground and in helicopters in hopes of capturing the suspect.
"We're having to move very slowly and meticulously," said Kern County sheriff's spokesman Ray Pruitt. "This is a suspect we consider to be armed and very dangerous. He has shown he is not hesitant to engage law enforcement officers in a shootout."
The search began July 28 after three young men found a squatter in their remote cabin in Kern County who claimed they were on his property, reports the Los Angeles Times. When one of the men said he was the owner, the squatter brandished a shotgun and threatened to kill the trio.
After holding them captive for over an hour, the gunman stepped outside and the men managed to escape. Authorities say the suspect then stole their car, before abandoning it 2 miles away. It was found a day later along with several firearms stolen from the men and the cabin.
More clues surfaced on Thursday after the family of David Louis Markiewitz, a retired dentist, found him shot dead in his cabin about 10 miles from the site of the kidnapping.
"It appears [the suspect’s] been breaking into homes in the area that are unoccupied and gaining access to firearms," Mr. Pruitt told the LA Times.
After a brief lull in the search, a man with a high-caliber handgun shot at SWAT teams who were investigating a mobile home during their search Saturday. One deputy was shot twice during the exchange and was transported to a hospital with several injuries, while another suffered from a minor wound.
Residents have been warned to stay indoors, and two elementary schools and a middle school have been closed indefinitely.
However, though the hunt continues, Pruitt says investigators haven’t confirmed whether the same person committed the three crimes. The unidentified gunman in question is believed to be a white man in his early 30s, camouflaged in olive-green apparel. The only other known detail, says Kern County Senior Deputy Brandon Rutledge, is that “he knows how to survive.”
Material from the Associated Press was used for this report.