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'Aggressive, belligerent' Happy Camp man thought to have real handgun prior to arrest

What officers and bystanders thought was a handgun was in fact a realistic-looking 'facsimile' BB gun, according to the Siskiyou County Sheriff's Office (SCSO).

Posted: Mar 8, 2019 2:38 PM

HAPPY CAMP, Calif. — A tense encounter between Sheriff's deputies and a man thought to be menacing neighbors with a handgun ended in relative peace on Thursday, according to an account from the Siskiyou County Sheriff's Office (SCSO).

The incident began around 4:15 p.m. when an SCSO deputy and an officer with California Highway Patrol (CHP) responded to a call reporting a man armed with a gun. According to the caller, the man had walked onto his property and confronted him, with a gun visible in the subject's pocket.

Minutes later, the officers tracked the man to an area in the 1900-block of Curly Jack Road. According to SCSO, they identified the suspect as 32-year-old Brett Christopher Rhodes of Happy Camp — a man with an "active felony drug-related arrest warrant."

"As Deputy Garrison approached the suspect he walked behind a camp trailer and later emerged in the open with his hands in the pockets of a jacket," SCSO said. "He was ordered to show his hands and he refused, became increasingly belligerent, and he appeared to be purposely reaching into his pocket attempting to retrieve an unidentified object while held at gunpoint by both peace officers."

Instead of complying, SCSO said that Rhodes ran away in the direction of other local residents with the officers in hot pursuit.

Rhodes ran up onto the porch of a nearby home and tried to get through the front door as the officers caught up with him, but the door was locked by residents on the inside. SCSO said that Rhodes ignored orders to surrender, and the officers used a Taser — "however, the Taser deployment had no impact on the suspect." Neither did a second attempt.

"Mr. Rhodes cursed and taunted the deputy and officer and refused to take off his jacket or reveal what was in the one pocket, which Deputy Garrison observed to look like an object forming the shape of a possible handgun. Mr. Rhodes removed a glass pipe from his pocket and advised the deputy and officer it was his 'crack pipe,'" SCSO said.

Deputy Garrison reportedly asked dispatch to tell the residents in the home to "take cover" in case gunfire broke out, since the officers still believed that Rhodes had a gun.

Rhodes then fled again, with more attempts to tase him proving ineffective. Finally, he tossed his jacket away just before the officers tackled him to the ground and took him into custody "after less than lethal means to stop further resistance proved successful."

In a pocket of the jacket Rhodes had discarded, SCSO said investigators found a "realistic-looking BB 'facsimile' handgun."

Rhodes was brought to Fairchild Medical Center for treatment of his injuries, then booked into the Siskiyou County Jail for felony arrest warrants, resisting, obstructing, and delaying a peace officer, possession of drug paraphernalia, and for being under the influence of a controlled substance.

“This was a high risk call for Deputy Garrison the CHP officer. The facsimile BB gun looked like a real handgun and the suspects aggressive, belligerent, and resistant actions endangered the safety of the involved peace officers and nearby residents," said Sheriff Jon Lopey. "Mr. Rhodes’ refusal to surrender the facsimile firearm, coupled with his other unlawful actions, could have led to a very tragic outcome. The responsible and measured response from Deputy Garrison and the CHP officer prevented that tragedy from happening and protected citizens threatened by Mr. Rhode’s unlawful and violent behavior."

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