Siskiyou County Sheriff identifies man killed by officers during Lava Fire evacuations

The Siskiyou County Sheriff's Office said that deputies were trying to keep a man out of the Mount Shasta Vista Subdivision when he drew a handgun.

Posted: Jul 15, 2021 11:27 AM
Updated: Jul 15, 2021 5:37 PM

YREKA, Calif. — The Siskiyou County Sheriff's Office has identified a man shot and killed by officers during evacuations of the Mount Shasta Vista Subdivision while the Lava Fire raged at the end of June.

On Wednesday evening, the Sheriff's Office said that it had positively identified the man as 35-year-old Soobleej Kaub Hawj of Kansas City, Kansas. His family has been notified of his death, the agency said.

According to the original statement released by the Sheriff's Office during the week of the shooting, Hawj was leaving the subdivision in a GMC pickup on the evening of June 28. Hawj reportedly tried to turn south onto County Road A-12, further into the evacuation zone, when law enforcement officers from multiple agencies attempted to halt him.

During that interaction, the Sheriff's Office said that Hawj raised a handgun and "may have fired several rounds" before multiple officers opened fire, killing him.

Wednesday's statement marks the first release of additional information on the case since the shooting.


RELATED: Lava Fire evacuation order inflames tensions around Mount Shasta Vista Subdivision


"Officer Involved Shootings are complex investigations that take time to thoroughly investigate," the Sheriff's Office said. "There are certain details surrounding this incident that have not been made public as the investigation is ongoing; however, in the future, once the investigation is completed, a thorough report of the incident will be made public. We ask for your patience and understanding as this investigation is being completed."

All of the officers involved have been placed on paid administrative leave while the Critical Incident Team, led by the Siskiyou County District Attorney's Office, conducts an investigation.

The proliferation of illegal marijuana grows in the Mount Shasta Vista area has resulted in increasing tension between Siskiyou County's Hmong community and county officials, with the latter pursuing a campaign to crack down on water shipments into the area. The mandatory Lava Fire evacuations, deadly shooting, and a series of arrests within the subdivision of people who entered or refused to leave did little to ameliorate the existing conflict.

On July 6, members of the Hmong community rallied outside of the Siskiyou County courthouse to protest the continued water restrictions and call for justice in the shooting. One man said that he would go on a hunger strike in front of the courthouse until conditions change.

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