Tuesday, June 19 , 2018, 5:02 pm | Fair 69º

 
 
 
 

Local News

Amber Alert Suspect Shot Dead After Being Cornered in Solvang

Fate of Pearl Pinson, 15, allegedly abducted by Fernando Castro, 19, in Solano County is unknown

Law enforcement officers pursue an Amber Alert suspect Thursday before he headed into Solvang where he was cornered near a mobile home park. The suspect, believed to be Fernando Castro, was found dead in a pickup truck after shots were fired.
Law enforcement officers pursue an Amber Alert suspect Thursday before he headed into Solvang where he was cornered near a mobile home park. The suspect, believed to be Fernando Castro, was found dead in a pickup truck after shots were fired. (Mike Eliason / Santa Barbara County Fire Department photo)
A vehicle driven by a man believed to be Amber Alert abduction suspect Fernando Castro is pursued by law enforcement. The suspect was later shot dead. Click to view larger
A vehicle driven by a man believed to be Amber Alert abduction suspect Fernando Castro is pursued by law enforcement. The suspect was later shot dead. (Mike Eliason / Santa Barbara County Fire Department photo)

[Scroll down for audio of emergency radio traffic]

The suspect in an Amber Alert abduction case died of gunshot wounds Thursday after being pursued by Santa Barbara County law enforcement and cornered in Solvang.

Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Kelly Hoover confirmed that the suspect, believed to be Fernando Castro, 19, was found deceased in the vehicle from gunshot wounds after exchanging fire with law enforcement personnel.

An Amber Alert was issued statewide after 15-year-old girl, Pearl Pinson, was allegedly abducted from Solano County Wednesday morning and the suspect, Castro, was said to be driving an older model gold Saturn. 

The vehicle with a matching license plate was first spotted and pursued by the CHP on Highway 101 north of Los Alamos around 3:10 p.m., and the driver later headed east on Highway 246 to Solvang, Hoover told media.

He briefly drove the wrong way on Highway 101 before exiting at Buellton. 

Sheriff’s deputies joined the chase and a Santa Barbara County Sheriff/Fire Air Support Unit helicopter provided critical information to let units on the ground know where the suspect vehicle was headed, she said.

After the driver crashed the car into a barricade near the Rancho Santa Ynez Mobile Estates on the 100 block of Val Verde, the suspect got out of the vehicle and shot at pursuing deputies, and one returned fire, Hoover said.

Fernando Castro
Fernando Castro

The man then broke into one of the mobile homes and barricaded himself inside, and the female resident of the home ran outside, uninjured. 

At about 4 p.m., the suspect stole a truck from the neighborhood and started driving back to Fjord Drive, where he again exchanged shots with law enforcement.

At that point, the driver was observed slumped over the wheel and not moving, and deputies approached the vehicle using an armored vehicle.

The suspect was located in the stolen vehicle deceased with multiple gunshot wounds, Hoover said.

He was declared dead at about 4:20 p.m., according to radio traffic. A handgun was recovered from the scene, Hoover said.

Pearl Pinson Click to view larger
Pearl Pinson

No law enforcement officers or civilians were injured, Hoover said. 

“Coroner’s detectives are in the process of confirming the identity of the suspect and notifying the next of kin. As is protocol in any officer-involved shooting, an investigation is underway to account for the shots that were fired and determine if the shooting was within policy,” Hoover said. 

Pearl Pinson's whereabouts are unknown, and anyone with information about her is urged to contact law enforcement.

“We have the FBI, sheriffs from Solano County, Santa Barbara and the CHP working to determine what happened here, and definitely everyone is very concerned for her welfare,” Hoover said.

Authorities released additional photos of Pearl Pinson Thursday after the man suspected of abducting her in Vallejo was shot and killed by law enforcement in Solvang. Click to view larger
Authorities released additional photos of Pearl Pinson Thursday after the man suspected of abducting her in Vallejo was shot and killed by law enforcement in Solvang. 

During the pursuit and search in Solvang, law enforcement issued a reverse notification call through the 9-1-1 system telling nearby residents to shelter in place and lock their doors.

The incident that prompted the Amber Alert happened in Vallejo Wednesday morning around 7 a.m., when the Solano County Sheriff’s Office responded to reports of shots fired on a freeway overpass.

“A witness reported seeing a white female being pulled by a Hispanic male on the overcrossing. The female’s face was bleeding, and she was yelling for someone to help,” the department said on its Facebook page.

“The Hispanic male had a firearm in his hand. As the witness ran for help, a shot was heard. Upon arrival, deputies found what appeared to be blood on the ground; however, no one was located in the area.”

The female was identified as Pinson, who never arrived at school, authorities said. 

“At this time we are not able to confirm if Pearl was shot or the extent of her injuries,” the department wrote on its Facebook page. 

Pinson is described as a 5-foot-3 white female, with brown hair dyed green and green eyes. She has a lower lip piercing and was last seen wearing a grey sweater and black leggings, and had a black and turquoise backpack, authorities said.

“Pearl, you need to come home,” the teen’s sister, Rose Pinson, told reporters Thursday night at a gathering on the overpass. “If anything, you can find a way home. I know you can.”

A Crime Stoppers tip line has been established at 707.644.7867.

Noozhawk managing editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Enter your email
Select your membership level
×

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >