Geysers Road just north of the Sonoma County line has seen increased action in recent weeks. A drive-by shooting occurred on Aug. 14 and, less than a week later, a trailer caught fire on Aug. 20. In response to recent events, the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) said that it is preparing for increased enforcement of the area.
“It’s definitely gotten to the point where, we are … going to make a concerted effort here in the upcoming days to address and resolve any violations of any kind of ordinance with the county or any kind of illegal conduct that’s occurring there,” said Captain Gregory Van Patten, public information officer for the MCSO.
No suspects were identified in the Aug. 14 shooting, which resulted in one person sustaining a gunshot wound to the shoulder, and some of the trailers parked along Geysers Road being hit with bullets. According to Van Patten, no casings from the shots were found — he noted that the damage caused indicates that a high caliber rifle appears to have been involved in the shooting.
Then, six days later, a “suspicious trailer fire” occurred. Van Patten said that construction was going on nearby and crews saw the smoke and were able to extinguish it before the fire developed.
Now, the sheriff’s office is working with Caltrans, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and public health organizations to go out and make contact with people living on the Mendocino County side of Geysers Road and along the river.
“As far as our patrols, we’ve been down there several times making contacts and identifying who the individuals are,” Van Patten said.
While making contact, Van Patten said that MCSO officers determined that the majority of folks were people with ties to Sonoma County.
“Out of the group of eight or nine who were contacted, only one had ties to Mendocino County,” he said.
In addition to making contact with individuals on Geysers Road, there’s also a coordinated effort to put up signage that advises people of their legal rights when it comes to occupying turnouts. Additionally, Mendocino County Health and Human Services will be going out and giving information and resources to those who need it.
“Tomorrow (Sept. 4) with contacts and within the next couple of weeks there’s going to be a definite presence by us and our allied agencies,” Van Patten said, noting that the department is going to provide resources and information to people camped along the road, and won’t “go down there with a heavy hand a draw a line in the sand.”
Rather, the department wants to address the root of the issue.
“We’re not going down to say ‘you need to move 100 yards down the road into the other county,’” he said.
In recent weeks, the Reveille has received information from people who drive by the area, citing visible criminal activity. When asked how people should proceed, Van Patten said that those who witness criminal activity in the area should call Mendocino County dispatch at 707-463-4086.
“It is helpful for us, because then we can show that there’s a community problem” he said.
Since Geysers Road is in the southernmost part of MCSO’s jurisdiction, Van Patten said that deputies don’t frequent the area.
“Typically, one deputy is assigned to that area — the city limits of Ukiah down into Hopland where that (Geysers Road) is,” he said.