Police: Man who shot at officers and Caltrans workers in custody

- A Lake County man who fired his rifle at law enforcement and highway workers was apprehended Monday evening after a six hour manhunt.

43-year-old Joshua Brown, known as "Buck", was apparently enraged about a driveway dispute.

In May, he lost a court case and was ordered to share his driveway with another landowner, so he dumped concrete and metal debris on it and carved out a new one.

The dirt easement he constructed onto Highway 29 was illegal, and Monday morning CalTrans crews arrived to remove it.

But no sooner had they placed a k-rail barrier across it, Brown came running down his road, yelling at the workers, with what looked like a gun in his hand.

Lake County Supervisor Rob Brown, who is also a neighbor, was among those who took cover.

"After shouting at us, he went back and got his pickup truck, and got his rifle and shot off a couple of rounds, at the highway patrol, sitting right at the end of the driveway," described Brown, who is no relation to the suspect.

The supervisor said he warned Caltrans there might be trouble dismantling Brown's unpermitted work.

"I told them beforehand to make sure you have law enforcement there, because this is not going to go over well at all. I know him really well, really well," declared Brown.

Road blocks were set up when Brown took off running, at one point firing three more shots toward arriving sheriff's deputies and state parks officers.

SWAT from three counties swarmed the area, and a few dozen households in the vicinity were warned to lock themselves inside, or leave, while Brown was roaming.

"I kept my family inside, respected the situation, and wanted to keep them safe," neighbor Zack Pindell told KTVU.

"I don't know what made him crack, but I'm just glad he didn't get hurt and none of the officers got hurt." 

During the hours Brown was a fugitive, the section of Highway 29 nearest his eleven acre property was closed, along with some other local streets.

"We've got some information that he's got underground bunkers or storage containers buried underground,"

Lake County Sheriff Brian Martin told KTVU, describing the challenges of searching Brown's compound, once a warrant was issued.

"They finally approached a house where they gave announcements over the loudspeaker and the subject voluntarily surrendered himself without any violence."

Supervisor Brown recalls coaching Joshua Brown in Little League when he was growing up, remembering him as a "great kid" who developed difficulties in adulthood.

"He's always got some kind of protest thing going on. There are signs all over his fences, and we've all been watching it , when we pass by here, for years, always  something new going on," noted Brown.

Among the flags and signs on Brown's fences hangs a faded confederate flag.

"I wouldn't put much stock in that," observed Brown, "he's got a lot of issues going on". 
Sheriff Martin was unaware of any racial or political motivation for the suspect's actions.

"We have some information that he believes he's a sovereign citizen and the rules don't apply to him on his land," explained Martin, "but we don't know whether that is coupled with white supremacy ideology."
Brown's mother, who lives part-time on the property with him, approached KTVU to defend her son.

"I don't think he really wanted to hurt those officers or he would have," exclaimed Irma Brown, "but he has a good heart, he doesn't mean to hurt anyone. He has had enough. He has had enough of the judicial system which has pushed him to the edge.".
Brown is jailed in Lakeport and will face an array of charges including criminal threats and assault with a deadly weapon on peace officers.

The sheriff says his department has received calls this year, of Brown making threats, especially since losing his land dispute, but that he has no prior criminal history of note.

Martin notes Brown's gunfire was more than warning shots, however. 

"He was close enough to yell at people, so those rounds fired from a rifle, were definitely close enough to hit."

 

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