Man shot by warden identified
By GREG WELTER - Staff Writer
Article Launched: 10/10/2007 12:00:00 AM PDT
JARBO GAP -- The man shot and killed by a California Department of Fish and Game warden during a warrant arrest Monday has been identified as Bartyn Pitts IV, 39, a caretaker on the property where he died, west of Bardees Bar Road.
Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey said the same warden had been in the area Saturday night investigating reports of hunting violations, when he allegedly witnessed Pitts tending a large, illegal bonfire in the Feather River Canyon.
On Monday, the warden returned to the area, about a mile north of Big Bend Road, and cited Pitts without incident for an illegal burn.
On his way back to Oroville, the warden ran Pitts' name for possible outstanding warrants. Pitts was found to be wanted in Hawaii on a $50,000 warrant alleging methamphetamine sales, and authorities there said they would extradite him on the charge. "Believing that he had a good rapport with Pitts, the warden returned to serve the warrant," Ramsey said.
Ramsey said Pitts became agitated when he realized he was about to be arrested.
"Mr. Pitts then went to a nearby trailer and emerged with a shotgun," Ramsey said.
The suspect reportedly fired in the warden's direction, but didn't hit him. As the warden saw the shotgun being wheeled around, he reportedly drew his handgun and fired multiple rounds.
Ramsey declined to say how many bullets struck Pitts.
California fish and game officials said 12 wardens have been shot in the line of duty since
the department was formed in 1870, but believe this is the first time a warden has killed a suspect.
An armed State Parks ranger was the first on the scene as backup for the warden Monday, but wasn't involved in the shooting.
A second man with Pitts, reportedly on the property helping the suspect work on a truck, was detained by deputies for questioning. He was found to be a witness to the incident, but not involved, and later released.
Ramsey said Pitts, from Dana Point in Orange County, had been in the area since April, tending a cooperative medical marijuana grow that had recently been harvested.
He said Monday's incident had nothing to do with the pot garden.
Ramsey said a multi-agency shooting protocol team investigating the warden's actions may release its findings by the end of the week.
The name of the warden, a 10-year veteran currently on administrative leave, is being withheld until the investigation is finished.
I'm surprised thats the first fatal DFG has had. I know they get in a couple of shootings a year.
So was I.
they should have just sent the DOG