Man airlifted from hills 2 days after being shot

Authorities searched for the man for two days after receiving a "vague" description of the remote area during the initial 911 call

John Holland
The Modesto Bee

STANISLAUS COUNTY, Calif. — A helicopter crew Wednesday located and rescued a man who was reported shot two days earlier in the remote hills west of Patterson.

The unidentified man was taken to a local hospital and is expected to recover, Sgt. Luke Schwartz of the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department said by phone.

The victim had been working in an illegal marijuana plantation near Frank Raines Regional Park when he was shot during a robbery by several armed men, according to a news release.

The department is not disclosing exactly when the man was shot, nor his injuries or information about the suspects. Other people at the plantation tried “to treat the wounded man as best as they could,” the release said.

A video from the department shows a rescuer and the victim being hoisted in a harness up to the helicopter at about 11 a.m. He was then taken to an ambulance.

The park is about 10 miles by air from Patterson and reached by the winding Del Puerto Canyon Road.

Two calls for help Monday

Deputies first responded to the scene after an anonymous call at about 3 a.m. Monday about a gunshot victim in the canyon. The caller provided a “vague” description of the area, and the call was lost, the release said. The phone is a type that can be used only to call 911, so deputies could not reach the caller.

Authorities searched without success, then another anonymous call at about 6 a.m. Monday gave the same information. The search continued into Monday afternoon but was ended due to the large area and scant information.

A third call about the shooting came in around midnight Wednesday. This time, deputies were able to meet the caller in a parking lot on Rogers Road in Patterson. That person told them about the robbery and efforts by witnesses to treat the wounded man, the release said.

Search resumes with SWAT, helicopter

The search was slow to resume because of “inconsistent statements and complex directions coming from the reporting party,” the release said. It finally got going at about dawn Wednesday, with help from the helicopter, drones, the SWAT team and the Special Vehicle Operations Unit.

The helicopter crew spotted the victim in the late morning and he waved them down to the site, the release said. SWAT team members got off the helicopter and started providing medical aid.

The victim was described only as a Latino is his late 20s. His place of residence is unknown.

People with information about the case can contact Detective Detective Kamila Sulkowski at 209-525-7032.


©2020 The Modesto Bee (Modesto, Calif.)

Search and Rescue June 24, 2020

On June 24, 2020, Stanislaus County Sheriff's Air Support Association was able to locate and rescue a shooting victim from a remote area in Del Puerto Canyon just before 11:00 AM. The man was transported to a local hospital and is expected to survive. The incident began sometime in the early morning hours on Monday (6/22/20) when dispatch received an anonymous call from a 911-only cell phone at around 3:00 AM. The caller said that there was a man shot somewhere near Frank Raines Park at 17802 Del Puerto Canyon Road outside of Patterson. The caller gave a vague description of the area and the call was dropped. Unable to reach the caller due to the 911-only phone, deputies searched the area near the park but were unable to locate a shooting victim. Another anonymous call came in about 3-hours later at 6:00 AM with the same information about the shooting victim in that area. Additional deputies along with the sheriff’s helicopter again searched the area around the park until afternoon but did not locate the victim. The search was finally abandoned due to the large area and very limited information. Some time around midnight on Wednesday (6/24) dispatch received another call reporting the shooting victim from Monday. Deputies were able to make contact with the reporting party. The reporting party advised that they were working in an illegal marijuana grow in the canyon when several armed gunmen robbed them and shot the victim. They treated the wounded man as best as they could and told him that they would get help. Due to inconsistent statements and directions from the reporting party, it was determined to start the search in daylight Wednesday. The sheriff’s helicopter, drones, SWAT team, and Special Vehicle Operations Unit (SVOU) assisted detectives with the search. Just before 11:00 AM, the sheriff’s helicopter located the shooting victim in a remote area of the canyon near the illegal marijuana grow when he waved them down. SWAT team members were dropped on scene by the helicopter and began to render aid to the victim. Due to difficult terrain and the victim’s injuries, the helicopter had to use a long-line attached to a harness to lift him out to safety and transport him to a waiting ambulance. The victim is a Hispanic male adult in his late twenties. At the time of this release, it is unknown where the victim lives. The investigation is ongoing and anyone with information is encouraged to call Sheriff's deputy detectives at 209-525.7114.

Posted by Stanislaus County Sheriff's Office on Wednesday, June 24, 2020


McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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