EUREKA -- Gary Lee Bullock, the wanted suspect in the recent killing of Father Eric Freed, was found in a Briceland area house today and is currently being held by Humboldt County Sheriff's deputies in the greater Garberville area, according to Chief Andrew Mills of the Eureka Police Department. Sgt. Bill Nova of the EPD said he was notified by the Sheriff's Office at around 12:30 p.m. today and is sending two teams of detectives to the scene.
Freed's missing dark gray Nissan Altima was also located near the house, according to an EPD press release. Second update:
EPD Chief Andrew Mills confirms Gary Lee Bullock, suspected in the slaying of Father Eric Freed, is in custody. It happened around 12:30 p.m. in the Garberville area by sheriff's deputies. Story from earlier today.
Eureka Police Chief Andrew Mills today announced an arrest warrant has been issued for Gary Lee Bullock, who is suspected in the death of the Rev. Eric Freed at the St. Bernard Church rectory.
Mills said Bullock matches the description of a man confronted on church grounds by a security guard in the early morning hours Wednesday. Freed was found badly injured at 9 a.m. when he didn't arrive for Mass. At the rectory, there was evidence of forced entry and a "violent struggle." A cause of death has not been determine, but Freed suffered "significant blunt force trauma," Mills said.
The suspected murder weapon and evidence connecting Bullock to the crime were found at the scene.
"We will work tirelessly until he is in custody," Mills said.
The chief said Bullock does not have a violent criminal history and he does not believe the community is in danger. Court records in Humboldt County show Bullock was arrested for cocaine possession and pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors in April 2013. Mills said the department is looking at "several places throughout the state of California," for Bullock, who will turn 44 on Monday.
Bishop Robert F. Vasa of the Diocese of Santa Rosa said plans are being made for Freed's funeral service. The bishop said an administrator of the parish will be appointed soon, hopefully by this weekend.
"There is no more important place in the diocese at this time than St. Bernard in Eureka," he said.
There has been an outpouring of grief over Freed's death. A popular priest, Freed also taught in the Religious Studies Department at Humboldt State University and was director of the campus Newman Center.
Press release from the Eureka Police Department:
The Eureka Police Department announced an arrest warrant today for Gary Lee Bullock has been obtained for the murder of Father Eric Freed. Bullock is a white male 6'1", 195 pounds and has dark colored hair. His last known address was Redway, California. The facts of the case are as follows: On December 31, 2013 Bullock was the subject of a radio call regarding a person who was acting strangely in the Garberville area of southern Humboldt County. Humboldt County deputies located and arrested Bullock for public intoxication. He was taken to jail where he was rejected due to his erratic behavior. Bullock was then taken to the hospital for evaluation where he became more agitated and had to be physically restrained by deputies. Bullock was ultimately booked into jail at 4:34 p.m.
Gary Bullock was released at 12:34 a.m. on Jan. 1. At about 2 a.m. hours officers from Eureka Police Department were dispatched to 615 H Street, regarding a suspicious person. Officers contacted Bullock and found that Bullock was not intoxicated, and did not qualify for an emergency psychological hold. Officers referred Bullock to an emergency shelter for the night.
Later that evening a security guard heard noise in the area of the church and went to investigate. He saw a person matching Bullock's description and directed him to leave the property after a short conversation.
At about 9 a.m. officers were dispatched to the church Rectory where parishioners found Reverend Father Erick Freed badly injured. Officers and a doctor, who is a parishioner at Saint Bernard, observed that he was deceased. The exact cause of death has yet to be determined and an autopsy is scheduled for Saturday. It does appear that there was blunt force trauma to the victim.
EPD's investigation into this homicide has revealed that forced entry was made into the parsonage and a violent struggle ensued. The pastor's vehicle was also noticed missing during the crime scene search. That vehicle is a dark gray 2010 Nissan Hybrid bearing California license plate 6NDW400. Residents are asked to be on the lookout for Gary Bullock and the Pastor's missing vehicle. If spotted they should immediately contact local law enforcement and do not approach the subject. There are currently more than 25 officers, detectives and agents assigned to the task of finding Gary Bullock and bringing him to justice. If friends, family or associates have had contact with Bullock they need to call Detective Sergeant Bill Nova immediately. He can be reached at (707) 268 5261.