Another “Only in the High Desert” Story

This is one of those stories that seem to only happen in and around the high desert. Makes you wonder if it’s the heat or too many years on meth that causes these nutty things to happen.

Men tell strange tale of kidnapping, near hanging

February 8, 2008 – 5:30PM

NEWBERRY SPRINGS — When deputies Jacob Gault and Fidencio Davalos first heard what happened to three Newberry Springs men a few nights ago, they did not know if they should believe it.

“It was like something from a movie,” Davalos said of the three men’s story of kidnapping, handcuffs, nooses and eerie interrogation.

However, less than 24 hours later, the Barstow sheriff’s station had one man in custody and plenty of evidence to corroborate the three’s tale.

Gault and Davalos arrested Dan Garcia, 44, of Newberry Springs, for suspicion of kidnapping and assault with a deadly weapon early Friday morning after a raid on a Condor Road property by deputies from the Barstow station, the sheriff department’s crime impact team, officers from the county’s gang unit and the department’s helicopter.

On Thursday morning, Gault and Davalos went to Newberry Springs to meet with three men, between the ages of 18 and 23. Davalos said the three launched into a bizarre account of what happened to them after Garcia allegedly kidnapped them when they stopped their truck in Garcia’s driveway to turn around. Here is what happened, according to Davalos:

Before stopping in Garcia’s driveway, the three men finished checking on an elderly person they care for in Newberry Springs. When the incident began at 11 p.m. Wednesday, Garcia appeared out of some bushes wielding a gun at the truck. Garcia fired one round at the truck and then ran toward the truck. With his gun pressed to the side of the driver’s face, Garcia ordered the men out of the truck and placed two of them in handcuffs, leaving the driver free.

Garcia then led the three to an area where nooses hung and instructed the driver to place the others’ heads in nooses. The driver was then told to use Garcia’s tractor to dig a hole “big enough for a person,” according to Davalos.

At some point, Garcia told the driver to stop digging the hole and restrained him using zip ties. The three were then led back to their truck, which Garcia had moved, and were interrogated about whether they used drugs, believed in God or were in gangs. The cuffs and zip ties were removed and Garcia asked the men to provide him with their personal information, addresses, phone numbers and Social Security numbers.

Then Garcia let them go. The three men suffered only minor scratches. The whole ordeal lasted about three hours. The three went to their respective homes. Garcia, however, continued to call and threatened the three. They called the sheriff’s department.

“They were still just in shock,” Gault said.

The sheriff’s department obtained a search warrant and orchestrated a raid on Garcia late Thursday night. Gault said after Garcia realized he was surrounded by about 20 sheriff’s officers, he surrendered and was taken into custody.

Sgt. Manny Mendoza said despite the presence of nooses, the kidnapping and assault does not appear to be race-related. Garcia is Hispanic and the three victims are white. He said the department does not know what drove Garcia to his suspected actions. During questioning, Garcia did mention that he was sick of people stealing his property, Mendoza said.

The sheriff’s department is still investigating. Anyone with information about Garcia can call the Barstow sheriff’s station at 256-4121. People with information that wish to remain anonymous can call WeTip at 1-800-78-CRIME or leave information on the WeTip Web site at www.wetip.com.