Search for missing Vallejo teen moves to Sonoma County; suspect dead
VALLEJO, Calif. (KTVU) - The search for missing teen, Pearl Pinson, resumed Saturday morning. The multi-agency search effort has expanded to the community of Jenner in Sonoma County, along the Russian River.
The search was suspended at sundown Friday.
Solano County Sheriff said it is coordinating with the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office to conduct the search and those efforts will resume by foot, boat and air on Saturday.
Additional details on what led investigators to that area have not been released.
This comes after a clue in the Amber Alert search for Pearl Pinson, 15, of Vallejo led investigators to focus on Marin County Thursday night, after a grueling day that ended with the suspected kidnapper dead from a shootout with authorities hundreds of miles away in Santa Barbara County.
Sheriff Thomas Ferrara said the suspect Fernando Castro, 19, of Vallejo exchanged gunfire twice with deputies. Ferrara says a CHP officer in Santa Barbara County spotted Castro in the gold Saturn about two hours after the Amber Alert was issued.
Pearl was not in the vehicle and the search for her has intensified.
"The Saturn Castro was seen driving was spotted on cameras near the San Rafael Bridge at 9:30 this morning in Marin County. We currently have deputies in that area searching, looking for other clues, anything that would give us information where Pearl is at this point," said Deputy Christine Castillo, a spokeswoman for the Solano County Sheriff's Department, late Thursday.
Sheriff Ferrara said that when the Amber Alert was issued Thursday, a license plate reader triggered a camera that took images of the gold Saturn in the area of Sir Francis Drake Boulevard in Marin County. After anaylzing the images, Ferrara said it does not appear to show Pearl sitting up in the car, but he says there's no way to tell whether she might have been lying down or in the trunk.
The suspect, identified as Fernando Castro, 19, of Vallejo, was involved in a shoot-out with law enforcement officers in Santa Barbara County after officers spotted the car that was the subject of the alert. Medics on scene confirmed the suspect was killed during the confrontation with law enforcement authorities.
Investigators said earlier when the Amber Alert was issued that they we're looking for a 1997 Gold Saturn 4-door car with California license #5XZD385.
The Solano sheriff tweeted Thursday afternoon that the car had been located in Southern California. The suspect exchanged gunfire with law enforcement authorities in a Solvang mobile home park in Santa Barbara County. Sheriff Ferrara said the suspect was originally in the Saturn when he abandoned it and jumped into another vehicle.
The sheriff said the man, believed to be Castro, jumped out of that vehicle and exchanged fire with law enforcement officers before he was fatally wounded by officers.
It was not immediately clear what the suspect was doing in Southern California.
Pictures released by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department showed a man presumed to be the suspect while he was behind the wheel of the Saturn described in the Amber Alert. Video uploaded to YouTube shows law enforcement cars at the scene in Santa Barbara County and the sound of gunfire is heard.
The incident began Wednesday around 7 a.m. when Solano deputies received several calls from witnesses about a man, who deputies believe to be Castro, pulling Pinson across the pedestrian overpass above Highway 780 in Vallejo near Home Acres Avenue and Taylor Avenue.
A witness told deputies that the man had a gun and that Pinson's face was bleeding and she was yelling for help. The witness said she heard a gunshot.
By the time deputies arrived, both Pinson and the Castro were gone but there was blood on the ground and Pearl's cell phone had been left behind.
Pearl was last seen wearing a grey sweater, black leggings, with a black and turquoise backpack. She currently has green hair.
The Solano County Sheriff's Department said that Castro and Pinson were acquaintances.
The Sheriff is urging anyone who might have seen Pearl Pinson, Fernando Castro, or the gold Saturn to call them at the tip line number (707)784-1963