Man sought after assault on ranger

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By AMY LINDBLOM

One man has been arrested and the search for another continued this morning in connection with shooting at a U.S. Bureau of Land Management ranger in the Red Hills area west of Jamestown yesterday.

John James Heller, 20, booked on suspicion of drug possession, remained in custody this morning in lieu of $10,000 bail.

Heller would not reveal where he lives, Sheriff's Lt. George Ruckman said. Tuolumne County Sheriff's investigators questioned Heller last night and again today about his possible involvement in shooting at BLM Ranger Steve Martin about 2 p.m. yesterday.

Martin was not hurt. Until investigators talk further with Martin, his supervisors and the Tuolumne County District Attorney's Office, Ruckman said few details on the case will be revealed. Ruckman would not say if Martin fired back at the men.

Heller was arrested when he walked into Chinese Camp about 8:30 last night covered in dirt, cuts and scrapes.

Ruckman said Heller's clothing matched what Martin said one of the assailants was wearing a black T-shirt and blue jeans. His shoes also matched footprints sheriff's SWAT team members had been tracking from the Red Hills Recreation Area parking lot where the shooting occurred.

Ruckman said a Smith and Wesson revolver and knife were found near the parking lot.

Almost immediately after Martin reported two men fired at him, law enforcement officers from the sheriff's department, California Highway Patrol, state parole, Sonora Police and other BLM officers drove with sirens on and lights flashing to help.

Patrick Karnahan of Sonora said he was driving east on Highway 108 yesterday afternoon and saw 17 or so patrol cars speeding west.

Road blocks on La Grange Road, Red Hills Road and Old Don Pedro Road were quickly set up and officers checked vehicles for suspects, while SWAT team members and other officers searched the rugged area on foot, Ruckman said.

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The Union Democrat
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