A traffic stop attempted by a Mendocino County Deputy Sheriff on the morning of July 17 in Point Arena ended 15 days later in dramatic fashion with more than a dozen police cruisers and an armored personnel carrier deployed against a local man barricaded inside his truck and threatening to light himself on fire on Albion Ridge Saturday night, August 1, 2020.
Marc Lucas, an Albion resident, was taken into custody after a five-hour standoff with police on the Ridge, who had mounted a heavy response to the scene after an intensive 15 day manhunt in which Lucas had eluded officers in two separate high-speed pursuits over mountainous coastal terrain. Finally cornered, he barricaded himself inside the cab of his pickup truck, and in full view of more than 20 emergency responders, Lucas drenched his body and clothing with the contents of a five-gallon can of gasoline. Law officers and firefighters stood by helpless to intervene as Lucas threatened to ignite himself and everything around him if officers did not back off.
It was at that point – after hours of tense negotiations had failed, and taser and police-dog take-down attempts proved unsuccessful – that Albion Firefighters developed another plan of attack.
After staging equipment into position, a rear window was smashed on Lucas' truck and a fire hose inserted into the cab, whereupon hundreds of gallons of water were used to flush both the suspect and the flammable gasoline vapor out of the truck. This action was successful in forcing Lucas out, and he was taken into custody, but not before additional intervention by the police attack dog and its handler. It appears from jail booking photos that Lucas sustained major facial injuries during the arrest. No injuries were reported to emergency responders.
Lucas was transported to a local hospital where he was “medically cleared” for booking into Mendocino County Jail. He faces a long list of charges on multiple felony counts, including reckless evasion, assault on a police officer and parole violations, and is being held on a no-bail basis due to his parole status.
In an extensive interview with this writer at the Anderson Valley Advertiser, Mendocino County Sheriff Matt Kendall said the incident was a “sign of the times,” a reference to the challenges posed to his deputies and other first responders in communities where substance abuse and mental illness issues have boiled over with additional pressure brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic. Kendall said that Lucas was well known to his deputy on-duty the morning of July 17 in Point Arena. He said that Lucas failed to pull over when the deputy initiated a traffic stop for an unspecified “vehicle code violation.” Instead, Lucas took off and led the deputy on a wild car chase over eight miles of winding coastal roads for more than two hours before escaping near Ten Mile Road and Iverson Drive.
Thus began an intensive manhunt for Lucas that involved multiple law enforcement agencies over the next 15 days. While actively searching for Lucas on Saturday, deputies and a CHP officer watched as he drove right past them at about 2pm. This sighting led to another attempt to pull him over, and another high-speed chase that finally ended two miles later on Albion Ridge.
At one point in the six hour standoff that ensued, Lucas rammed his truck into the front of a blocking police car in a break-out attempt that prompted one deputy on-scene to unleash a police K9 Dog against him. Lucas fought this off by getting back into the cab of his pickup and attempting to close the truck door on the head of the police dog. Yet another deputy then deployed and fired a Taser at Lucas, also without success.
It was at that point that Lucas got out and retrieved a 5 gallon can of gasoline from the bed of the truck and proceeded to pour the contents that can over himself, drenching his clothing and the interior of the truck, and threatened to ignite himself and blow everything around him to smithereens.
Law enforcement officers, hostage negotiators and firefighters then huddled and formed the plan which eventually led to the deployment of the water hose, and hundreds of gallons of water proved successful where tasers, dogs, deputies and drones had failed.
David Gurney, a Mendocino coast resident, told the ICO that Lucas was well known in the area, and that he was a working man, an urchin fisherman in the '90's, a man who he said may have faced substance abuse issues. He said he had not known Lucas to be a violent man, and he questioned the use of the police dog against Lucas after he had apparently surrendered.
For his part, Sheriff Kendall laid responsibility for the escalation of the incident on society in general for failing to provide any safety net in the form of mental health or substance abuse treatment for this type of suspect. He said Lucas “appeared to be on a meth or crack run.” Kendall, who has been a vocal advocate for additional mental health resources and crisis response capabilities, said there is little if any medical or mental health intervention possible for a suspect like Lucas. He said there is a wide gap between these preventative health services and the armed and forceful response that his deputies are trained to bring to a situation.
Attempts to interview elected civilian leadership in the County were unsuccessful, as none of the County supervisors contacted returned calls from the AVA seeking comment.
Mendocino County CEO Carmen Angelo did however respond, and in an exclusive telephone interview with the AVA, she said she had not been aware of the incident until Wednesday morning, August 5. She said that the County had at its disposal two fully equipped mental health crisis-response vans, funded by Measure “B” revenues. She could not answer why these units were not deployed in the Lucas incident, but that she planned on speaking with the Sheriff about it later. She praised the work of the Sheriff and his deputies, but said that as an elected official with his own budget and authority, Sheriff Kendall and his deputies “do what they do” with little if any civilian oversight at his point.
THE ALBION INCIDENT
(Sheriff’s Office Press Release)
On Friday, July 17-2020 at approximately 10:10 PM, a Mendocino County Deputy Sheriff attempted to make a traffic stop on a Toyota Tacoma for an observed vehicle code violation in downtown Point Arena.
The driver, who was later identified as Marc Lucas, 50, of Point Arena, failed to yield to the Deputy’s emergency lighting and siren and a vehicle pursuit was initiated. This pursuit spanned just over eight miles and was terminated when the Deputy lost sight of the vehicle in the area of Ten Mile Road and Iverson Drive.
Based on the positive identification of Lucas, who was known to be on active parole from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) for Assault with a Deadly Weapon on a Peace Officer, Deputies sought and obtained an arrest warrant for the apprehension of Lucas for Felony Evading and Felony Evading – Wrong Way Driving.
Over the course of the next 12 days, Deputies searched numerous locations on the south coast for Lucas, without success. Based on the above information, a CDCR Parole Officer petitioned the Mendocino County Superior Court for a parole warrant, which was granted on Thursday, July 30, 2020.
On Saturday, August 1, 2020 at approximately 1:44 PM, Deputies and a California Highway Patrol Officer were actively looking for Lucas in the 29000 block of Albion Ridge Road, when he drove past them in his Toyota Tacoma.
Deputies were able to clearly see and identify Lucas and they attempted to stop him in his vehicle; however, Lucas again refused to stop. Deputies pursued Lucas for over two miles and he turned onto Albion Ridge “I” Road, where his vehicle came to a stop.
Lucas exited his vehicle and partially removed what he told Deputies was an SKS semi-automatic assault style rifle.
Deputies verbally instructed Lucas to drop the rifle and to surrender.
Lucas refused to cooperate and stood in the open door of his vehicle with his hand on the butt-stock of the rifle.
Lucas demanded Deputies leave him alone and threatened to shoot any Deputies that attempted to take him into custody.
Lucas told Deputies that he would use his vehicle to ram through the patrol vehicles that were at the location; he later intentionally crashed his vehicle into the front of a patrol vehicle that was blocking him, while Deputies and a CHP Officer were using the vehicle to shield them from any potential gun fire from Lucas.
A Sheriff's Deputy attempted to use K9 “Takoda” to apprehend Lucas. When Lucas observed the K9, he quickly entered his vehicle and repeatedly slammed the door closed, smashing the dog’s head between the edge of the door and door jamb.
Lucas exited the vehicle and a Sheriff's Sergeant attempted to use a Taser device to incapacitate Lucas, without success.
Lucas then obtained a gasoline can from the back of his vehicle and poured gasoline over his body and the interior of the vehicle. Lucas threatened to “blow up” himself and Deputies near him.
Lucas then barricaded himself inside his vehicle and remained there until the arrival of the Mendocino County Multi-Agency Special Weapons and Tactics Team (SWAT).
The SWAT Citizen Rescue Vehicle (Armored) was positioned near Lucas’ vehicle and several hours of attempted de-escalation and negotiations were met with no cooperation from Lucas.
At around 7:50 PM, SWAT members executed a plan that was developed to use a fire hose to introduce water into Lucas’ vehicle to reduce the risk of any fire or explosion with the ultimate goal of minimizing any potential injuries to Lucas or SWAT members.
The Albion Little-River Volunteer Fire Department agreed to assist SWAT members by parking a fire engine a safe distance away and running the pump.
SWAT members deployed a fire hose to the side of Lucas' vehicle and began flushing the gasoline out of the vehicle.
After approximately 15 seconds of introducing water into the cab of the vehicle, Lucas exited the vehicle and Mendocino County Sheriff's SWAT K9 “Bo” was deployed and took control of Lucas. SWAT members quickly overpowered Lucas by tackling him to the ground and placed him under arrest without further incident.
Lucas was provided first aid from the SWAT Paramedic at the scene and he was transported to a local hospital for a medical clearance.
The firearm that Lucas brandished and claimed was an SKS semi-automatic assault type rifle was determined to be an air powered pellet rifle.
Lucas was booked into the Mendocino County Jail for the following offenses:
2800.2 CVC (Felony Evading)
2800.4 CVC (Felony Evading - Wrong Way Driving)
69 PC (Resisting Arrest with Force or Threat of Violence)
245(c) PC (Assault with a Deadly Weapon on a Peace Officer)
3000.08 PC (State Parole Warrant)
2800.2 CVC (Felony Warrant for Felony Evading)
2800.4 CVC (Felony Warrant for Felony Evading - Wrong Way Driving)
Due to Lucas’ parole status, he is being held at the Mendocino County Jail without bail.
A charge of 600 PC (Interference with Police Dog) is being submitted to the Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office for consideration of prosecution.
The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office would like to thank the residents of Albion Ridge for their cooperation and support during this seven hour incident.
The Sheriff’s Office would also like to thank our public safety partners from the following agencies that assisted in the safe resolution of this incident:
Chief Rees and the Albion Little-River Volunteer Fire Department, California Highway Patrol, Ukiah Police Department, Fort Bragg Police Department, California Department of Fish and Wildlife and California State Parks.
Written By: Sheriff’s Sergeant Ze Lima #1224
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A READER WRITES: I don’t know where Mr. Scully got some of his information in his recent report on the Marc Lucas incident outside Albion, but several statements in his article contradict the Sheriff’s Press Release on the incident and locals here in the area. When it comes to statements reported as facts, while you might be able to claim that certain things may have been left out of the Sheriff’s press release, I put more faith in the Sheriff’s account than a non-eyewitness reporter. First, the person who suggested using a firehose was not a local fireman, but a local deputy who had previously been a Coast Guard fireman. Supervisor Ted Williams, former Albion-Little River Fire Chief, brought the firetruck over and fired it up after the decision was made to use it. Second: Mr. Lucas broke out his own window, not “a rear window was smashed” by the responders. In fact, these mistakes now make me wonder if Mr. Scully quoted CEO Angelo correctly about the crisis van. Mr. Scully said that the CEO said that the Sheriff “has at his disposal two fully equipped mental health crisis response vans funded by Measure ‘B’ revenues,” and she “did not know why they were not deployed in the Lucas incident.” Surely CEO Angelo, an active member of the Measure B Committee, knows (or should know!) that while the Measure B committee and the Supervisors approved funding for the Mobile Outreach Service Vehicle a few years ago, it has not been staffed since then and there is no crisis van or MOPS program to call on at the moment. (I doubt it would have made any difference in this particular case anyway.) Perhaps Sheriff Kendall will get one going soon, but if he does it will be without much help or cooperation of anyone in the CEO’s Office or on the Measure B committee. And the CEO’s reported claim that Sheriff’s deputies “do what they do” without oversight, implying they’re somehow in need of oversight, doesn’t sound like the CEO at all. If anyone needs oversight, it’s the CEO, not the Sheriff.