Gunman wanted in killing of dentist, shooting of deputies is still near Bakersfield, officials say

Gunman wanted in killing of dentist, shooting of deputies is still near Bakersfield, officials say
Bakersfield police officers discuss search strategy with a Kern County sheriff's deputy during a search for a suspected killer. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Authorities have found evidence indicating a gunman suspected of killing a dentist, kidnapping three men and wounding two Kern County sheriff's deputies is still within a remote five-square-mile area east of Bakersfield.

During the intense search, deputies "came across indications" that led them to believe the gunman is still in the area, sheriff's spokesman Ray Pruitt said. Pruitt said he could not disclose details about what deputies found because it's part of the investigation.


"We believe this person is still out there," he said. "The last thing we want is anybody else getting hurt.

As the manhunt entered its seventh day, U.S. Marshals arrived at the isolated area Thursday to help in the search.

The dragnet is centered at Jawbone Canyon Road and Kelso Valley Road, where SWAT deputies last encountered the unidentified gunman believed to be camouflaged in olive-green apparel.

More than 75 deputies on off-road vehicles and in patrol cars are combing caves, abandoned mines and twisting dirt roads.

Sheriff's officials are using two-person teams to ensure deputies' safety. The gunman, Pruitt said, has shown "he isn't hesitant" to engage law enforcement.

"Our belief is this individual is armed and extremely dangerous," Pruitt said.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Forest Service issued an emergency order to close the Piute Mountains, a range in the Mojave Desert, as teams of deputies and SWAT officers searched for the suspected killer.

All forest land and trails in the Piute Mountains and roads leading into the wilderness were closed. The Pacific Crest Trail also was closed from California 58 to Bird Springs Pass until further notice.

Authorities think the gunman hiked over the Piute Mountains, possibly using the Pacific Crest Trail, to get to Weldon, 10 miles away, after kidnapping three men July 28.

Sheriff's officials said the suspect held a 19-year-old man and two 20-year-old men captive for an hour in a cabin near Twin Oaks, where he was likely squatting.

After the men were able to escape, the gunman stole their off-road vehicle and fled, authorities said. He later abandoned the vehicle.

Two days after the kidnapping, on July 30, the gunman fatally shot retired dentist David Louis Markiewitz, 64, of Tehachapi, sheriff's officials say. Markiewitz's body was found in a cabin in Weldon.

Two days later, after authorities launched the manhunt, the gunman fired at SWAT deputies on a remote property near Kelso Valley and Jawbone Canyon roads, striking Deputy Michael Booker and Deputy Jose Perez. Booker was shot in both arms, and Perez was grazed by a bullet.


The gunman is described as white with blue eyes, 30 to 35 years old, and wearing glasses and a brown corduroy cap. He has long, brown hair and was "dirty in appearance," officials said.

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