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Mendocino County Today: January 7, 2014


by Daniel Mintz

A Southern Humboldt man has been charged in the New Year’s Day murder of the pastor of one of Eureka’s most iconic churches.

Police believe Father Eric Freed, the pastor of St. Bernard’s church in Eureka, was murdered sometime in the early hours of New Year’s Day in the church’s next-door rectory, where he lived. Gary Lee Bullock, a 43-year-old resident of the Redway area who grew up in Southern Humboldt, has been charged with the killing.

Bullock (with Bailiff) and Father Freed
Bullock (with Bailiff) and Father Freed

Bullock was arrested on Jan. 2, not long after Eureka Police Andy Mills asked for the media’s help in distributing a mug shot photo. Lt. Steve Knight of the Humboldt Sheriff’s Office said Bullock was arrested at about 12: 45 p.m. by sheriff’s deputies as his step-father was driving him to a location where police were waiting.

Knight said Bullock didn’t know he was on his way to be arrested and that his family was cooperative in effecting the apprehension. Sheriff’s deputies made a traffic stop on Elk Ridge Road in Briceland, near the family’s residence, to carry out Bullock’s arrest.

It was one in a series of interactions Bullock had with police.

Knight said that Bullock first came to law enforcement attention at about 1:30 p.m. on Dec. 31, when a resident of a mobile home park on West Coast Road in the greater Garberville area called to report a man hiding in the bushes and “acting bizarre.”

A deputy and a sergeant responded, Knight continued. The sergeant knew Bullock and was able to coax him out of the bushes. “He appeared to be under the influence of a controlled substance,” Knight said, and Bullock was arrested for disorderly conduct due to public intoxication and violation of summary (unsupervised) probation for a previous misdemeanor drug possession offence.

Once at the county jail in Eureka, Bullock became “combative,” said Knight, attempting to kick out the windows of the patrol car he was transported in. Bullock was deemed to be in need of medical clearance after a jail nurse noted that his heart was racing, Knight continued.

Bullock was taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Eureka, where his allegedly combative behavior resumed, necessitating restraint by police officers. But he was medically cleared and booked into county jail at about 4:30pm.

He was held until about 12:42am on New Year’s Day, and released on his own recognizance.

Bullock’s behavior continued to draw attention. At the press conference, Mills said Eureka police responded to the area of the church, which is not far from the jail, at about 2am after someone called to report a person behaving strangely. Police located Bullock at the church, found that he didn’t qualify for another public intoxication arrest or emergency hold, and advised him to stay overnight at an emergency shelter.

“Later that evening, a security guard heard noise in the area of the church and went to investigate,” said Mills. “He saw a person matching Bullock’s description and directed him to leave the property after a very short conversation.” Bullock complied.

At about 9am, church parishioners checked on Freed because he didn’t arrive to lead the morning’s mass. Police were summoned and Freed’s death was confirmed.

Mills said Freed appeared to have had “significant blunt force trauma,” a conclusion that was later confirmed as the cause of death by the county Coroner’s Office. Police believe Bullock forced an entry into the rectory and murdered Freed after a “violent struggle,” Mills continued.

He said the motive for the crime was not known. Freed’s vehicle was missing and was found the day of Bullock’s arrest. Knight said it was located in Southern Humboldt, in a wooded area near Bullock’s family’s residence.

Reporters at the press conference asked about the circumstances of Bullock’s initial medical assessment, incarceration and release. Mills said arrests for misdemeanor charges like disorderly conduct/intoxication result in brief jail stays, as per state code.

County Sheriff Mike Downey said the evaluation of Bullock was based only on physical concerns due to high blood pressure. “There was never a psychological evaluation sought or requested, nor where there any signs that would lead us to request that kind of evaluation,” he continued.

Mills said police aren’t releasing information about what weapon is believed to have been used or the specifics of the forced entry, “Because at some point, we’re going to have to interview additional people, including the suspect.”

Mills added that there’s an abundance of evidence linking Bullock to the crime scene, including video evidence. Investigators have recovered the weapon that’s believed to have been used in the killing, he said.

Bullock’s past doesn’t include “a significant history of violence,” said Mills. Knight said Bullock had been known to the Sheriff’s Office both as a victim of crimes and as a suspect.

At press time, Bullock was set to be arraigned.



by Todd Walton

Rigid beliefs make disappointments seem unbear­able, whereas realistic beliefs help us to accept disap­pointment and go on from there.”— Eileen Kennedy-Moore

We are currently in the midst of a local drought that coincides with a state drought that coincides with a regional drought that coincides with the global climate change crisis that more and more scientists believe is now irreversible and will soon, as in the next decade or sooner, lead to famine, wars, plagues, the death of bil­lions of people, and possibly the extinction of all, or nearly all, life on earth. Darn. There go my books and music being rediscovered five hundred years hence as the great unheralded literary and musical creations of Now. There go all my favorite species of plants and ani­mals, and my favorite people, too. There goes living to a riper old age than the age I eventually live to.

According to even fairly cautious climate change sci­entists and climate change research institutes, things are beyond dire for human and other life on earth. I wonder if that’s why I’ve been feeling the need to nap more fre­quently of late. Humans have never lived on a planet with so much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and maybe this excessive amount of carbon dioxide induces drowsiness. According to many of these same scientists, the only hope of slowing and reversing climate change and the disastrous effects of that change — an extremely slim hope at best — would be for all fossil-fuel-depend­ent societies to entirely collapse, which would result in the cessation of fossil fuels being burned, which would quickly lead to famine, wars, plagues, and the deaths of billions of people, but maybe not the extinction of all, or nearly all, life on earth. I say maybe not because of those hundreds of pesky nuclear power plants all over the world that require enormous amounts of electricity and functional infrastructures to keep those tens of thousands of nuclear fuel rods cool (even when the plants are no longer operating) so they don’t melt down and explode and radiate the entire earth.

For the time being, Marcia and I have plenty of water for our minimal water needs, but if the current drought were to turn into a multi-year drought, which it very well might given that local, state, national and global weather patterns are wonkier and crazier and more extreme than ever before, what would we and the other people in Mendocino do for water? Thinking about what we would do in response to a local catastrophe is an interesting (and scary) way to start thinking about what humans will do en masse in response to such catastrophes that are occurring with more and more frequency around the world.

I suppose if most of the people around here couldn’t get enough water to lead minimally decent lives, most of the people around here would try to go elsewhere, assuming there were relatively safe and affordable ways to go elsewhere and there were other places with plenty of water and housing and employment for thousands of people from here and millions of people from other drought-stricken places. You see where I’m going with this. Without enough water, our entire local and state and national economy and society would be kaput. And according to climate change scientists, not enough water is soon going to be reality for billions of people on earth — very soon. So where will all those people go?

To put the current drought in historical perspective, 2013 was the driest year in California in at least 165 years. That is to say, humans started keeping records of rainfall hereabouts in 1848, and since then there has never been a drier year than the year just ending, with not a drop more rain predicted for Mendocino and most of California in the few days remaining in 2013. Mendo­cino’s rainfall total for the entire calendar year will end up being less than fifteen inches. Our historical average here on the coast is fifty-one inches a year. Let us hope that January and February prove to be fabulously wet months, though we got less than two inches of rain all of last January and February.

Before he died in 2000, Marc Reisner, the famous writer about the history of water in California, predicted that water would become so scarce in California over the coming years that at least half of California’s thirty-eight million human residents would be compelled to go east­ward, far eastward, to the New York side of the Missis­sippi River where rain continues (currently) to fall in abundance. However, Marc was not privy to the current computer models suggesting that most of the interior of the United States will be too hot for human habitation in another ten to twenty years, so those twenty million Californians will not only have to go east, but north. Yet north is…Canada. No problem. Canada has tiny army. America has big army. We conquer Canada for their land and water resources and then several million lucky for­mer Americans will go up there to live.

Sound farfetched? Consider this. Swiftly changing weather patterns in Spain (population 47 million) suggest that the climate and amount of rainfall in the Iberian Peninsula will soon resemble that of present-day Algeria, which means most of those Spanish people will have to head north to find enough water and food to survive. But wouldn’t you know it, France and 66 million French people are already there.

A friend recently sent me a link to a slideshow of shocking photographs of three huge Chinese cities: Bei­jing, Shanghai, and Chengdu. These pictures appear to have been taken on moonless nights, when, in fact, they were taken on sunny days when the smog was so thick that no sunlight could penetrate the dense black air. So toxic is the air in these cities that for many days of the year children and elderly people are not allowed outside. Hundreds of flights a week are canceled at the interna­tional airports servicing these cities, yet the people and governments of these cities do nothing to address the terrible problem, though China says they will begin tak­ing steps to slowly shift away from burning coal as their primary means of producing energy. However, for now and the foreseeable future, the people in these cities will live (for as long as they can) with the deplorable situa­tion because the alternative, in the short term, would be the loss of jobs and a slowing of economic growth.

I mention these terrifying images from China because I feel that we, the American people and Ameri­can government, are doing essentially nothing to address the terrible problem of climate change that has so severely darkened the future of life on earth. What will it take before we realize that our individual actions multi­plied by hundreds of millions of us are the cause of these terrible overarching problems? When I look at those pictures of tens of millions of Chinese people trying to live in atmospheres black with poison, I think the answer must be that most of us will never realize we are the source of the problem because we have lost our natural connections to the earth and to the fabulously interconnected processes that make life on this precious planet possible.

Despite (or maybe because of) the dismal prognosis for life on earth, I’ve been having vivid dreams lately (and remembering them) in which I am confronted with seemingly unsolvable puzzles and insurmountable obsta­cles, yet I somehow manage to solve the puzzles and surmount the obstacles and wake up feeling optimistic, if not about the future of humanity and the planet, then about the next few hours and the possibility I may learn something or write something or play something on the piano or have a conversation with someone or plant a seed or have a vibrant thought that sparks a reaction from Universe or at least gives me the feeling I may have sparked a reaction from Universe.

Wishful dreaming? What am I talking about? I’m talking about why I continue to write a weekly article and novels and music in the face of the unsolvable puz­zles and insurmountable obstacles that may soon render me and every other breathing and photosynthesizing thing dead. I am not in denial of what is happening to the earth, yet I continue to believe that for however long we are alive, our purpose is to consciously interact with Universe in loving and creative ways. Universe, so say my teachers, loves for us to take creative regenerative actions, because Universe, more than anything, loves to respond to what we do. I know I’m anthropomorphizing Universe by endowing her with the ability to love. So sue me. Happy New Year!

(Todd Walton’s web site is


A FEW STRAY WORDS about the state of American culture. Outside the capitals of the “one percent” — Manhattan, San Francisco, Boston, Washington, etc. — American material culture is in spectacular disrepair. Car culture and chain store tyranny have destroyed the physical fabric of our communities and wrecked social relations. These days, a successful Main Street is one that has a wig shop and a check-cashing office. It is sickening to see what we have become. Our popular entertainments are just what you would design to produce a programmed population of criminals and sex offenders. The spectacle of the way our people look — overfed, tattooed, pierced, clothed in the raiment of clowns — suggests an end-of-empire zeitgeist more disturbing than a Fellini movie. The fact is, it simply mirrors the way we act, our gross, barbaric collective demeanor. A walk down any airport concourse makes the Barnum & Bailey freak shows of yore look quaint. In short, the rot throughout our national life is so conspicuous that a fair assessment would be that we are a wicked people who deserve to be punished. (James Kunstler, "Forecast 2014 -- Burning Down The House")


THE BOEING DEAL: It’s all a charade, just like President Hopium promising to reduce inequality after putting the screws to working people for the last 6 years. It’s all public relations baloney, not a word of truth to any of it.  The union bosses are just like their double-dealing, two-faced buddies in the Democratic Party. Pharisees, all of them!

So, here’s the deal in black and white:

1–The pension plan is frozen for all members.

2–Wage increases are 75% less than current contract.

3– Monthly health care premiums triple over life of extension; co-pays double. (And) Health care benefits can be reduced without negotiations with union.

4–New savings plan is at the mercy of the stock market. No guarantees. If the market crashes, your retirement gets wiped out. End of story.

5–The new retirement savings plan delivers two-thirds less than current contract.

6–No clear statement of work.

That’s how management disempowers working people and turns them into submissive zombies kowtowing to the master class. “Punch the clock, do your job, and shut the hell up.” That’s the message, isn’t it? Oh yeah, and there’s also a neat little ‘no strike’ clause in there, so if management comes back a year or two into the new contract and wants to switch things around (like they did in this deal), then workers are prohibited from walking off the job. (Mike Whitney)




AVA Jan 1, 2014, page 6: “I haven't listened to KZYX in years.” Well, Bruce, that never need limit your ability to comment, eh? You could do theater reviews, sports events, several simultaneously, without having to see anything.

Yours, Gordy Black, Mendocino

ED REPLY: The Major keeps me abreast, if “abreast” isn't one of those naughty words that gets people fired at Free Speech Radio Mendocino County. But you caught me just in time. I was about to say something about the Civil War when, thanks to you, I remembered I wasn't there.


DINNER AND A MOVIE hosted by the AV Foodshed Group and AV Grange Location: Anderson Valley Grange. January 19th 2014, Sunday. 5:30PM - 6:30PM - AV local food Potluck - BYODish/utensils 6:30PM - 8PM - Movie AMERICAN MEAT 8PM - 9PM - Discussion

Join us for Dinner and a Movie/Documentary. Be part of the discussion of the hopeful changes that are begining to transform the meat industry. Bring your favorite local potluck dish and ideas of how to support our local farmers.

Valerie Adair, 949.382.4424


MENDOCINO COUNTY MENTAL HEALTH BOARD (MHB) January 15. The MHB meeting will be held on Wednesday, January 15 at 10:00 a.m. in Ukiah at Mendocino County Administration, Conference Room C, located at 501 Low Gap Road. The meeting is intended for members of the public interested in supporting their local mental health services system. Public members are encouraged to attend the meeting to ask questions and give testimony. MHB meeting agendas are published at:

For more information about the MHB please contact Mental Health Board, Interim Chair, Denise Gorny, by emailing or by calling 707-463-4700.

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