SAN JOSE, Calif. (KTVU) -- Two suspects are on the run on Friday following a massive marijuana bust in Santa Clara County.
Authorities seized close to 8,000 plants with an estimated street value of $16 million. The illegal grow was on a hillside near Alum Rock Park in East San Jose. The plants were hauled away via helicopter.
“We have a marijuana eradication team that does several surveillances throughout the county,” said Sgt. James Jensen of the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office. “Today we decided to eradicate this marijuana grow.”
When deputies got there, three suspects took off running. They were able to cuff one man right away. The other two men, who the sheriff’s office said were shirtless, got away heading straight into the park.
“The park will be closed for the rest of the day and we are asking residents if you do see Hispanic males running without t-shirts coming out of the mountain area, coming from Alum Rock Park, please call 911 immediately,” said Sgt. Jensen.
During the manhunt, authorities found two semi-automatic handguns inside the park and believe the outstanding suspects may be armed. Deputies called off the search after losing radio contact.
“It’s (a) parent's worst case scenario, worst fear,” said Dr. Susana Gallardo who is a parent of a child at the camp. “It sounded like a bad movie, men with guns in a park and a bunch of kids in day camp"
Gallardo’s 7-year-old daughter goes to the day camp at the park and said the children were told to shelter in place.
A VTA bus transported roughly 30 kids - ranging in age from about 5 to 11 - to nearby Prusch Park where they joined other campers and took everything in stride.
“She's fine,” said Gallardo. “She's having a great time. She thinks it was a special day. It was just a drill. They are having a great camp day and I’m just going ‘oh my god what's going to happen?’”
Deputies are storing the plants as evidence and plan on destroying them after.
This is the third time authorities have discovered illegal grows in this area since 2011.