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Central California deputy escapes from custody after 2nd arrest, prompting manhunt

A Kern County sheriff’s deputy arrested this weekend for allegedly aiming a handgun at children was arrested again Tuesday evening and then managed to escape, prompting a manhunt in Bakersfield, authorities said.

Days after Edward Tucker, a deputy for more than 18 years, was arrested and then released after allegedly flashing a handgun at a group of girls, a person asked for a welfare check on him, said Kern County sheriff’s office spokesman Ray Pruitt said.

They found Tucker in a park in Bakersfield.

There, deputies uncovered drugs, firearms, and possible bomb-making materials, so they arrested him, Pruitt said. Tucker was handcuffed and placed in the back of a cruiser, but managed to free himself at around 9:45 p.m.

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He fled on foot from an underground parking garage at the county jail’s receiving facility in the 1400 block of Truxtun Avenue, Pruitt said.

“Somehow, Tucker was able to escape from the rear seat,” Pruitt said. “There’s some indication he may have been able to slip his handcuffs.”

Now the search is on for Tucker, whose behavior recently has been bizarre, authorities said. Tucker had been on approved leave from the sheriff’s office since October 2014. Pruitt said he could not disclose details about the leave, citing personnel issues.

Authorities said that on Saturday Tucker approached a group of girls and briefly spoke with them in front of a home in the 3100 block of Belle Terrace in southwest Bakersfield. At some point during the encounter, Tucker reportedly flashed a firearm at them, sheriff’s officials said. The girls ran home and told several adults about it and authorities were called.

Tucker then approached a group of men in front of another home and also talked to them.

As deputies arrived at the neighborhood, they saw Tucker run to and get into his vehicle. They order him to raise his hands and get out.

Inside, deputies found five handguns, one of which was loaded with inoperable training ammunition, two shotguns and an assault rifle, sheriff’s officials said. Deputies also found a small amount of what appeared to be methamphetamine. The weapons were Tucker’s personal firearms.

A drug evaluation showed signs that Tucker was under the influence of a controlled substance, Pruitt said.

Deputies arrested him on suspicion of brandishing a firearm, being under the influence of a controlled substance while in possessing a firearm, possessing a controlled substance, driving under the influence, and felony willful cruelty to a child, authorities said.

It is unclear what sparked Tucker to show his weapon to the girls since Tucker did not appear to know them, Pruitt said.

Tucker is described as white with brown eyes and closely cropped black hair. He was wearing black shorts, a black buttoned-up shirt and sandals when last seen. He is 5 feet 7 and weighs about 170 pounds, Pruitt said.

Twitter: @VeronicaRochaLA @MattHJourno

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