A massive manhunt in Kern County, California — about 130 miles north of Los Angeles — moved into its second week as more than 100 cops and sheriff’s deputies combed a brutally rugged five-square mile region of desert for a mysterious man they believe has killed one person, kidnapped three others, and wounded SWAT team officers in a ferocious shootout.
Other than a general description — a white man with blue eyes in his 30s wearing olive-green camouflage and a brown cap — authorities know nothing about the man they are hunting, only that “he knows how to survive,” according to one senior Kern County deputy.
The deputies were able to compile a composite sketch of the suspect, seen above on this page. They believe that he has been breaking into remote cabins in the southern California desert region, in search of firearms to steal. He also stole a vehicle from his three hostages, who managed to escape him unharmed.
On July 28, the three men, two aged 20, one age 19, returned to one such remote cabin owned by one of the men — only to find a stranger apparently living there. Incredibly, the stranger then ordered the three men off of “his” property.
When the man who owned the cabin told the stranger that, in fact, he was squatting on land that did not belong to him, the unidentified intruder produced a shotgun and held the three men hostage in the cabin, threatening to kill them.
The three escaped when the gunman went outside and left them unattended inside the cabin.
Two days later, the family of 64-year-old David Louis Markiewitz, who had been staying in a cabin about 10 miles from the initial incident, found him dead from a gunshot wound. While police say they have no direct evidence that the same man who held the three hostages also murdered Markiewitz, they are operating under that assumption.
They also believe the same stranger was the man they cornered on Saturday after a search of a mobile home in the Jawbone Canyon area of the Mojave desert, east of Bakersfield in Kern County — a region that has seen several previous mysterious crimes.
The man they found there opened fire on a sheriff’s SWAT team, shooting Deputy Michael Booker, wounding him in both arms. As Deputy Jose Perez heroically pulled his comrade out of the line of fire, he was also shot, though luckily he suffered only a grazing bullet wound.
But the gunman escaped. Police have no idea who he is, or why he has apparently embarked on a crime spree — possibly accumulating a large cache of stolen firearms. As the manhunt continues, police believe the suspect may be hiding in caves or abandoned mines in what was once prime territory in the California gold rush.
[Image: Kern County Sheriff’s Department]