Murder suspect caught in Highway 395 chase |

Murder suspect caught in Highway 395 chase

RENO ” Washoe County Sheriff’s deputies are still investigating a homicide along HIghway 395 in Washoe Valley, that ended in a chase, and the arrest of the suspected killer. At about 12:35 p.m. today, a man shot another man in the northbound lanes in Washoe County, leaving the victim’s body lying near the fence, according to Washoe County Sheriff’s Deputy Brooke Keast. A passerby on 395 stopped saw the body lying in the ditch, and stopped his vehicle. As he was trying to render aid, the shooter returned and shot the good Samaritan, police said. Washoe Sheriff’s Deputy Brooke Keast said the Samaritan was able to give a description of the shooter’s vehicle. He was transported to a Reno hospital. His condition is unknown at this time. Washoe Sheriff’s Deputies, Carson City Sheriff’s Deputies and Nevada Highway Patrol troopers located the suspect vehicle in the area of Franktown Road off Old 395 and gave chase. The suspect left his vehicle and fled on foot, discarding his clothes and large amounts of cash, according to police. A Washoe deputy and his K-9 located the suspect hidden in brush behind a home on Bellevue Drive. Traffic northbound at 395 is being diverted to East Lake Boulevard and was backed up for several hours all the way to Carson-Tahoe Regional Healthcare. Keast said the names of the suspect and two victims will likely not be released today. The suspect, however, is described as a Hispanic male from Carson City. Carson City investigators are assisting in the investigation and at 8 p.m. were awaiting a warrant to search a room at the Gold Dust West Casino on Highway 50 East. The connection to the room was not clear, but Sheriff Ken Furlong confirmed it is related to the Washoe Valley incident. Keast said Search and Rescue crews are combing the area for evidence. She said a weapon was found near the scene, but it has yet to be determined to be the murder weapon.

Faster forensic work needed

It took 16 days to find out a cocaine overdose killed Claudia Torres, a sixth-grader at South Tahoe Middle School. The day after Torres’ death, police interviewed their prime suspect, Jose Rodriguez Perez, a 23-year-old from South Lake Tahoe. They did not arrest him because Torres’ toxicology results had not come back from Sacramento. Now Rodriguez “is in the wind,” as South Lake Tahoe Police Detective Sgt. Tom Conner puts it. Police and Sheriff’s deputies say the Torres case is one example of the fact that it is taking too long to get results from forensic autopsies and toxicology tests. In the fall, a sergeant and the deputy coroner from the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Tahoe substation visited the Washoe County Morgue. Their goal was to start wheels in motion that would allow South Shore forensic cases to be investigated at Washoe County. “All the initial work was done and passed along at the end of October last year and we’re still waiting,” said Sheriff’s Sgt. Bob Johnston. It’s June and an agreement has not been reached. If a working relationship is established, Johnston believes the turnaround time for forensics will be quicker, therefore helping investigators. He said it is a fact that working with a morgue at Washoe would be a lot more convenient as far as transportation. Nancy Egbert, the sheriff’s director of administrative service, said the county is in preliminary stages of conversation with Washoe and she hopes something is finalized by July. “It’s a sheriff’s department issue because the sheriff is coroner,” she said. “The preliminary conversations we’ve had have not been formal. But they have indicated they would provide service.” Right now the sheriff’s department sends autopsies to the Placer County Morgue. If the sheriff’s department reaches an agreement with Washoe, its relationship with Placer County will not end, the department will just have two options for forensic work. “These guys are slow, we don’t get the results back in a fair amount of time,” Johnston said. “We’re looking to have Washoe County perform forensic autopsies with the doctors they have on staff.” A detective who works under Police Sgt. Tom Conner said Washoe could have determined in one day what caused Claudia Torres’ death. “They could tell us that day with an emergency priority deal,” Conner confirmed. “Sacramento can’t do that, it’s plain and simple. I suspect it’s the sheer volume they deal with.” Investigation of an apparent murder/suicide case has also been delayed by criminal testing. Robert Barr was found dead April 23 in a Tahoe Keys lagoon from a suspected suicide. El Dorado County Sheriff’s investigators still haven’t gotten his final autopsy report. Reports for his wife Rebecca Barr, a 45-year-old discovered shot to death in the woods by Fallen Leaf Lake, took more than two months to get back to South Lake Tahoe investigators. Mike Gregor, assistant coroner for El Dorado Sheriff’s Department, said the time it takes for law enforcement to get forensic test results is average. “It depends on how busy the doctors are,” he said. “Unfortunately these doctors don’t only contract with us. “They (investigators) take the case and are enthusiastic to make the case but the process takes longer than with other crimes.” Gregor said he hopes a contract is made with Washoe because of convenience.

Incline resident arrested on sexual assault charges

INCLINE VILLAGE – A man was arrested on sexual assault charges Friday night. Ubaldo Urbina-Maldonado, also known as “Gordo,” 32, turned himself in and was arrested by the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office Crimes Against Children Unit. He was charged with 40 counts of sexual assault of a victim under 16 and 40 counts of lewdness with a minor under 16. The investigation began last Wednesday when sheriff’s deputies took a report involving two victims alleging that the suspect had committed the assaults over a number of years. Urbina-Maldonado did not have a previous arrest record, according to Sgt. Sylvia Redmond, a detective for the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office. Urbina-Maldonado remained in custody at the Washoe County jail with bail set at $1.1 million. His arraignment will take place by Wednesday, officials said. Washoe County Sheriff’s Office Incline Village Substation Cmdr. Gregg Lubbe said parents need to be aware that there are sexual predators in Incline. “People think that because we’re in Incline, our children are safe,” Lubbe said. “They’re no safer here than anywhere else.” Lubbe cited an incident that took place in Incline about a year ago. A man was arrested for exposing himself to children on the bike path between Incline Middle School and the recreation center. “There are hundreds of registered sex offenders in Washoe County – and they’re in Incline, too,” Lubbe said. “Registered sex offenders are still predators – we just haven’t caught them yet.” He urged parents to be aware, especially during peak season in the basin. A man suspected of attempting to kidnap a young girl on the shores of Kings Beach was arrested last Wednesday and remains is in custody. Lucino Estrada, 46, a Mexican citizen who Placer County sheriff’s deputies believe is a legal, permanent resident of the United States, is being held without bail on charges of attempted kidnapping and lewd and lascivious acts, the Placer County Sheriff’s Office reported. “Because of the influx of tourists, the number of predators increase exponentially,” Lubbe said. “People need to be vigilant for their children’s sake.” For a list of registered sex offenders in Washoe County, visit

‘Not in our county’: Marijuana establishments snuffed out by Douglas County Commissioners

Marijuana establishments may be legal in Nevada, but not in Douglas County. County Commissioners on Thursday followed in the footsteps of the Planning Commission and voted unanimously against allowing marijuana establishments in the county. "I'm here to say not in our county — don't want it," Commissioner Steve Thaler said. "If that makes us too conservative, I'll live with it." Ordinance 2017-1481 prohibits "marijuana establishment uses, including cultivation, testing, product manufacturing, distribution and retail facilities in all Douglas County zoning districts," according to a memo provided by the county. The ordinance does not prohibit the use of recreational marijuana in Douglas County or the growing of plants for personal use by qualified people. Various area general improvement districts and the sheriff are in support of the ordinance, said Deputy District Attorney Cynthea Gregory. During public comment, one person spoke against the ordinance while four spoke in favor of it. "We should not increase recreational retardation," said Lance Crowley, a substance abuse counselor. Douglas County residents in November rejected Nevada ballot Question 2, also known as the Marijuana Act, by more than 4,000 votes. The ballot question was approved statewide by 99,000 votes. Under Question 2, Douglas County is permitted two marijuana retail establishments. Carson City is allowed four establishments and Washoe County is allowed upward of 20. The closest medical dispensary to Douglas County is in Carson City on Clearview Drive. It opened in the fall of 2016. Question 2 allows people age 21 and over to possess up to one ounce or less of marijuana or an eighth of an ounce of concentrated marijuana.

Reported plane crash called an ‘optical illusion’

Boaters on Lake Tahoe might have seen an “optical illusion” on Wednesday when they reported a plane missing in the hills near Rifle Peak, north of Sand Harbor, the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office said. After almost two hours of searching Rifle Peak and the surrounding area for a reported missing plane, the sheriff’s office called off the search, deeming it a false alarm. “People are very conscious of aircraft right now,” said Washoe County Search and Rescue Deputy Mike Matthews, referring to the current Reno National Championship Air Races and missing record-breaking adventurer Steve Fossett. Incline Village resident Mark Scully was boating on the East Shore when he saw black smoke overhead and “something airborne” about noon. “It looked like a fragment broke off and crashed into the mountains north of Lake Tahoe,” Scully said. But Washoe County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Steve Kelly said what Scully probably saw was two planes preforming acrobatic tricks before flying over Rifle Peak. Teams from the U.S. Forest Service, Nevada Department of Forestry, North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District, Washoe County Sheriff’s Office and Washoe County Search and Rescue responded to an area near Hidden Beach north of Sand Harbor State Park after Scully’s call. Helicopters and land crews scanned the steep slopes above the East Shore’s Hidden Beach for almost two hours.

Tribe joins war on drugs

MINDEN – Sheriff’s offices in Douglas County and Carson City as well as the Washoe tribe are joining forces in the war against methamphetamine and other illegal drugs. Douglas County Sheriff Ron Pierini, Carson City Sheriff Kenny Furlong and tribal officer J.C. Leonard announced the new partnership last week at a news conference in Minden. A legal agreement between the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California police and the counties could be finalized by next week, and would allow for the law enforcement officials to assist during emergencies on tribal lands. Until now in Nevada the tribe has provided its own law enforcement. There are four Indian colonies in the area, including Dresslerville, Woodfords and two in Carson City – the Carson and Stewart colonies. “We will no longer have to stop at the curb,” said Carson City Sheriff Kenny Furlong. Pierini said he has sought an agreement with the Washoe Tribe since 1994. This agreement would restrict Douglas County and Carson City law enforcement officials to assisting during violent or emergency situations only, and provide insurance and liability protection for the deputies. Washoe Tribe police would continue to patrol on tribal land. “We’re doing fantastic,” said J.C. Leonard, a police officer with the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California Police Department. Methamphetamine use is prevalent in every Nevada county and on tribal land, according to Pierini. Businesses are suffering losses as well as the families of children and parents who are abusing drugs. “There’s a huge outcry from all over the community,” he said. “It’s affecting families and children. It’s getting out of control.” “Drug Use Is Life Abuse” is being organized by the Douglas County and Carson City sheriffs’ offices and will kick off with Red Ribbon Week, a national recognition of drug-free schools, starting Monday. In Douglas County more than 7,000 red wristbands with the anti-drug logo on them will be handed out in schools next week. The bands can be used to get discounts at various businesses. Furlong said the Carson City Sheriff’s Department is looking into the wristbands for next year, but this year is providing residents with bumper stickers from both Drug Use Is Life Abuse and the Partnership Carson City anti-meth coalition. Bumper stickers can be picked up at the sheriff’s department, 901 E. Musser St., 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. The bumper stickers will soon be available at the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, at 1625 Eighth St. in Minden. To check on availability of the bumper stickers, call (775) 782-9903. The Drug Use is Life Abuse program was introduced by Harold Willard, who is on the Douglas County Sheriff’s Advisory Council. He founded the organization with six other people in Orange County, Calif., 19 years ago. The organization’s Web site,, provides information on drug-proofing homes and contact information for parents and businesses that need help. “We look to a lot of partnerships to evolve,” said Furlong. “We have not found anyone not wanting to jump on board with both feet. That’s very refreshing for law enforcement to see.”

Officials: Fire ripping through Washoe Valley is not threatening Lake Tahoe homes

UPDATE: 5 p.m. Washoe County Manager Katy Simon has declared an official emergency for Washoe County as the wildfire burns in the northern Washoe Valley area, officials announced in a press release. The declaration, made at about 3 p.m., allows the county to apply for reimbursement for costs related to the fire and request additional resources as appropriate. —— INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. – A snafu with the regional Reverse 911 system led to Lake Tahoe residents being phoned Thursday afternoon and told to evacuate because a wildfire was threatening their homes. The large brush fire currently burning in Washoe Valley south of Reno that had scorched at least three homes and was threatening many more along U.S. Highway 395 by 2:30 p.m. Thursday is not in danger of closing in on homes in the Incline Village area, officials said. The Reverse 911 system is administered by the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office that allows the sheriff, fire chiefs and emergency dispatchers to call residents of a certain area to alert them of an emergency. “Residents in the Incline Village/Crystal Bay area were accidentally called,” said Tia Rancourt, a spokeswoman for the North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District. “It was a computer error.” According to various reports, U.S. Highway 395 through Washoe Valley is currently closed as the wildfire burns. Motorists are advised to cancel travel plans. Strong winds are fueling the blaze near Pleasant Valley north of Washoe Lake, about 10 miles south of Reno. The fire is burning on both sides of the highway and heavy smoke has reduced visibility to zero. The Washoe County Sheriff’s Office has called for immediate evacuations in Old Washoe Valley, Saint James Place, and Pleasant Valley. Pleasant Valley Elementary School has been evacuated by school police. Parents are asked to pick up their children at Damonte Ranch High School. “Traffic is currently being diverted at Laramie Drive,” WCSO officials said. “We are asking residents to avoid 395 North and Southbound at Laramie Drive.” NLTFPD has sent overhead personnel, as well as an engine and a hand crew to assist with fighting the blaze, Rancourt said. For road conditions visit

Diver dies while exploring SS Tahoe; reason for his emergency ascent unknown

GLENBROOK, Nev. – A 63-year-old diver passed away on Labor Day due to an unexplained scuba diving accident in Lake Tahoe. On Sept. 5 crews from Douglas County Sheriff's Marine 7, Washoe County Sheriff's Marine 9 and the El Dorado County Sheriff's Marine Patrol vessel responded to a distress call for a scuba diver near Glenbrook Bay. Washoe County Sheriff officials found the man on the diving boat being given CPR. The unidentified man was taken to the Glenbrook Pier where Tahoe Douglas Fire Department paramedics attempted to resuscitate him. He was pronounced dead soon after. According to officials at Douglas County Sheriff's Office, the man was diving with two friends at the wreckage of the SS Tahoe, in roughly 350 feet of water. All three were apparently experienced divers and had done a similar dive at the SS Tahoe the day before. However, on Monday the victim made an emergency ascent to the surface, and was unconscious by the time he breached the surface. An investigation is still underway, and the name of the diver has not yet been released. The SS Tahoe is a 169-foot steamship that operated in Lake Tahoe towards the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century. The ship was scuttled in 1940.

Suspects apprehended in James Canyon marijuana grow

Three men face up to life in prison and a $10 million fine after they were arrested Wednesday in the James Canyon area above Jacks Valley in Douglas County, at the site of 4,700 marijuana plants. The trio appeared before a federal magistrate judge and were detained in Washoe County Jail. The announcement of the arrest was made Friday by Douglas County Sheriff Ron Pierini, Washoe County Sheriff Michael Haley and Daniel G. Bogden, U.S. attorney for the district of Nevada. The suspects are to appear in magistrate court in Reno on Aug. 30. The men were identified as Rafael Salas-Silva, 28, of Sparks; Martin Urioste-Maciel, 26, of Pasco, Wash., and Alberto Mendez-Arroyo, 23 of Reno. The criminal complaint charges them with the manufacture of more than 1,000 marijuana plants. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney James Keller. The charges are being brought as part of a federal and local law enforcement effort to combat drug trafficking and environmental damage to public lands, On Wednesday, members of the Douglas County and Washoe County sheriff’s office, the Reno Drug Enforcement Administration Task Force and the U.S. Forest Service initiated a search of James Canyon and the James Canyon marijuana grow site with the cooperation of the Washoe Tribe. As they entered the site, investigators saw Urioste-Maciel hiding in the James Canyon creek bed next to Mendez-Arroyo. Salas-Silva was stopped near the site in a vehicle that contained supplies, bags of fertilizer, sleeping bags and a propane tank that was to be dropped off at the grow site. Investigators located a fully operational marijuana grow of about 4,700 marijuana plants. Federal agents removed the plants, preserving some for evidence.

Wreckage of plane recovered from lake

Washoe County Sheriffs recovered the wreckage of a plane that crashed into the frozen Marlette Lake almost two weeks ago. The plane and the body of its pilot, Reno area resident Stephen Brown, were found Feb. 9. “Because of the inclement weather in the past week, this was the window we had today,” said Washoe County Search and Rescue deputy, Michael Matthews. The sheriff’s department made arrangements with a private company out of Sacramento to remove the plane from the ice, Matthews said. The plane was lifted out by helicopter because the warm weather conditions made it unsafe for vehicles to cross the 15-to-18-inch thick ice.