A Ventura County sheriff’s vehicle reportedly was fired on while on patrol near Mussel Shoals east of Carpinteria on Saturday evening, but a search of the area turned up no clues in the incident.
According to a Ventura County Sheriff’s Department official, at least two shots were fired in the direction of the patrol car about 5:30 p.m. Saturday, not far from the Cliff House Inn, 6602 Old Pacific Coast Highway, about a quarter-mile east of La Conchita. The deputy was not hurt and no injuries were reported.
Authorities mobilized a ground and air search of the area, with dozens of officers and a sheriff’s helicopter deployed. After searching for several hours, the operation was called off around 9 p.m. Saturday, officials said.
“Patrol cars were lining both sides of Highway 101 at La Conchita,” Greenspan told Noozhawk. “I drove past what appeared to be a SWAT truck and, overhead, a helicopter seemed to be searching in the brush of the hillside.”
Earlier Saturday, surfers at Mussel Shoals discovered an abandoned panga boat that had washed ashore. The vessels are often used by smugglers transporting drugs and illegal immigrants into the United States from Mexico.
Late Saturday, there was no indication that the shooting and the boat were linked.
Ventura County sheriff’s deputies on Saturday morning removed the 25-foot boat, which was empty but for life vests and gas cans, officials said.
Generally 20 to 30 feet in length and powered by one or more outboard motors, panga boats are commonly used by fishermen in developing countries but have become popular with smugglers moving contraband to the United States from Mexico.
In late August, an abandoned 30-foot vessel was discovered bobbing off the Gaviota coast. The boat was empty but authorities said it contained evidence of drug smuggling.
The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department has asked for the public to report suspicious boats off the coast by calling the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s toll-free 24-hour tip line at 1.866.347.2423.