SALEM, Ore. (AP) — A small Northern California town was rocked by a shooting, kidnapping and carjacking on Tuesday, all allegedly committed by a man and woman from Oregon who led police on a high-speed chase before they were captured.
The man, Edwin Lara, was fleeing his home state after being implicated Monday in the disappearance of a 23-year-old. Lara was charged with murder Tuesday in the death of Kaylee Sawyer, of Bend, Oregon.
The mayhem in the former gold-mining town of Yreka started near dawn Tuesday when a man was shot in the stomach at the Super 8 Motel. The man, who has not been identified, was hospitalized in critical condition, police said.
Five minutes after police got the call about the shooting, another man phoned in from a gas station, saying his car had been taken with his wife and two sons still inside.
"The man had come out of the gas station to see his dog running around and his car gone," Yreka Police Chief Brian Bowles told The Associated Press.
Bowles said Lara forced one of the man's sons to drive at gunpoint. The mother and sons were later dropped off at a rest stop.
A California Highway Patrol Officer later saw a car speeding on the interstate about 100 miles (160 kilometers) away and tried to pull it over, the highway patrol said in a statement. Lara sped away at more than 100 mph (160 kph). Police from the nearby town of Corning joined in before Lara pulled over and was arrested. A 19-year-old Salem, Oregon woman, Aundrea Elizabeth Maes, was also in the car and was arrested, Yreka police said.
Lara and Maes were booked into jail on charges including attempted murder, kidnapping, carjacking and burglary, Yreka's police department said in a statement. Bowles said investigators were still trying to determine whether Lara or Maes had shot the man at the motel. The relationship between Lara and Maes is not clear.
"We have got crime scenes at a motel, a gas station and in Red Bluff more than 100 miles away," Bowles said. "We're a small department and stretched beyond our resources right now."
Later Tuesday, Lara was charged in Bend, Oregon, with one count of murder in the killing of Sawyer, Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel told a news conference. Sawyer was last seen around 1 a.m. Sunday near her apartment, located close to Central Oregon Community College where Lara worked as a security guard.
Bend Police Chief Jim Porter said a body has been found in the county that is believed to be Sawyer's. A medical examiner would confirm the identity, he said.
Lara had worked as a part-time public safety officer at Central Oregon Community College since December 2014, said Ron Paradis, executive director of college relations.
"We're cooperating with the police as best we can," Paradis said, declining to comment further.
Police in Bend revealed that Lara's wife had alerted authorities Monday of his possible involvement in the disappearance of Sawyer. Isabel Ponce-Lara, Lara's wife, was recently hired by the Bend Police Department and has been receiving field training, the department said on Tuesday.
"Officer Ponce-Lara is not suspected to be involved in the disappearance of Kaylee Sawyer," the department said, adding that she "has been cooperative throughout the investigation."
Newspaper reports from 2009 and 2010 list Isabel Ponce-Lara as a student at the community college, and being on the dean's list.
Mourners were expected to hold a vigil Tuesday night to remember Sawyer, Hummel said.