Police Comb Neighborhood for Shooting Suspect
A 16-year-old boy was shot once in the chest at close range in the upscale Mission Oaks neighborhood Tuesday afternoon, and authorities launched an all-out search for the suspect.
Ventura County sheriff’s deputies searched with helicopters and five K-9 units until nightfall for the suspect--described as a Latino in his early 20s, about 5 feet, 9 inches and 200 pounds, with dark clothing and a shaved head.
Authorities said the wounded youth, who apparently was not from the neighborhood or Camarillo High School, suffered a single bullet wound to the upper chest.
The bullet grazed his lung. The youth was being treated at Pleasant Valley Hospital, Sheriff’s Sgt. Chuck Buttell said. Authorities indicated that the wound did not appear life-threatening.
The boy, who authorities believe is a Camarillo resident, was walking along a dirt path next to a steep forested area between Mulberry Ridge and Willow View Drive when he apparently was chased by the suspect, Buttell said. The boy told authorities that he did not know the suspect, nor why he was shot.
“People heard the shot, came out of their houses and saw him drag himself up the hill and stagger against the side of the house,” Buttell said. “He was hurt pretty good and had a pretty good-sized hole in him.”
Mulberry Ridge residents said they heard the boy’s cries for help as he staggered across lawns in the neighborhood. A neighbor and two nurses who live on the street rushed to his aid.
“He was a young kid. I’ve never seen him before,” said Eryn Cole, 19, who lives next to where the boy collapsed.
Cole heard what she first thought was a car backfiring about 2:30 p.m. But when she spotted the wounded boy on the ground a short time later, she ran outside.
“He was completely covered in blood--both his shirt and his pants were soaked,” she said.
Neighbors wrapped the boy in a blanket, called 911 and then waited for an ambulance.
“This is very unnerving,” Cole said, whose parents invited sheriff’s deputies into their kitchen to set up a command post out of the rain. “My little brother plays around here and rides his bike back there.”
Both the suspect and the victim were believed to be on foot, Buttell said. Deputies recovered a red-and-blue-checked jacket and a beige sheet that was rolled and tied like a sleeping bag on the street where neighbors found the victim. A shell casing from a .45-caliber handgun was found on the hillside.
Buttell said authorities do not know whether the shooting was gang-related.
Buttell said that after an extensive search of the area by the sheriff’s K-9 patrol units, “we’re pretty convinced the suspect is not around. We’re sure he’s left the area.”
As residents returned from work, they had to park their cars at the end of the street and walk to their homes because of the police line.
“This is a little too much for this quiet street,” said Kathy Root. “This really concerns me. I just went to a panel at Camarillo High School that talked about safety in our area and how everyone feels so safe here.”
But Dean Jacobson, who lives near where the boy collapsed, said this could have happened anywhere.
“It’s not safe anywhere anymore,” Jacobson said in between taking photographs of helicopters flying overhead searching the barrancas.
“It’s sad to see all this craziness going on.”
Times staff writer Scott Hadly and correspondent Nick Green contributed to this story.