"Anyone know of a manhunt north of healdsburg? the helicoptor keeps circling my neighbours yard," read the post on Facebook on Wednesday nght.
Now the story can be told, and it's not a pretty one: a 21-year old man from Davis, James Flavio Gomez, was found dead in a pond on his father's Geyserville Rd. property, two and a half days after he ran away from Sheriff's deputies attempting to question him.
On Tuesday, March 19, at 8:18 p.m., Sonoma County Sheriff's Deputies made a traffic stop on Healdsburg Ave. north of town, almost to Alexander Valley Rd., for a vehicle code violation.
They contacted the driver, James Favio Gomez, a 21 year-old male who lives in Davis, Calif. A passenger was also in the car, Kelsey Michaela Stauffer, a 23 year-old female and also a resident of Davis.
Reads the press report issued tonight by the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office,
During the traffic stop Gomez displayed symptoms of being under the influence of a controlled substance, became agitated and more uncooperative throughout the course of the traffic stop.
When Gomez refused to exit the vehicle deputies opened the driver's door of the vehicle in an effort to remove Gomez from the vehicle to continue their investigation. At that time Gomez sped off, running over the foot of one the deputies in the process.
Sheriff cars raced after Gomez', and he crashed at the tight corner of Lytton Station Rd. and Healdsburg Ave. When a deputy approached the vehicle it was discovered that Gomez had fled on foot.
Stauffer also left the scene of the crash, but was apprehended a short distance away. She was arrested and booked into county jail for resisting arrest and being under the influence of a controlled substance.
By now numerous other deputies had arrived at the intersection just off the Lytton Springs exit, tasked with the search of to a rural property located in the 18000 block of Geyserville Rd. approximately 300 yards from where he crashed his vehicle.
The Sheriff’s own Huey One was not available, so a R.E.A.C.H. helicopter was used in the overhead, search as well as several K-9s and electronic devices. The property was described as heavily wooded and thickly brushed, save for two half-acre ponds.
After over three hours, at 12:54 a.m., deputies were still not able to locate Gomez and called off the search.
On Thursday May 21, a man identified in the sheriff’s report only as “Gomez’ father” went to the Sheriff’s office say that no one had heard from his son since the accident, and he was concerned for his safety.
Henry One flew to the scene at 7:00 p.m. that evening to conduct another search of the area where James Gomez was last seen running. For a second time, helicopter surveillance was not able to locate Gomez.
Gomez' father told deputies that he was going to search the area for his son the next morning, Friday.
At 11:45 a.m. today, Sheriff's Dispatch received a 911 call from Gomez' family members stating they had located Gomez' body in one of the ponds on the property. Sheriff Deputies responded to the area and secured the scene.
Since sheriff deputies were involved in the pursuit and an extensive search for Gomez, and he was found dead, the Critical Incident Protocol has been invoked and the Santa Rosa Police Department will be conducting the investigation.