SOLVANG, Calif. – Authorities were searching across a wide area in California for a teenage girl with hopes of finding her alive after the man suspected of abducting her was killed in a shootout with deputies.
Fernando Castro, 19, whose car had been the subject of an Amber Alert for 15-year-old Pearl Pinson, exchanged gunfire with deputies at a Santa Barbara County mobile home park Thursday about 300 miles south of where she was taken a day earlier, Solano County Sheriff Thomas Ferrara said.
Pinson had still not been found several hours after the shootout, Ferrara said. Authorities have been frantically searching for her since a witness reported hearing a girl screaming for help as a man dragged her across a freeway overpass in Vallejo on Wednesday morning.
“We continue our search, and we hope to find her alive,” Ferrara said.
Authorities described the two teens as acquaintances, but emphasized that they believe Pinson was taken unwillingly.
The search was set to continue through the night with an expanded search resuming Friday morning.
The sheriff’s department said Santa Barbara sheriff’s deputies spotted the gold Saturn sedan Castro had been seen driving in Vallejo about 300 miles south late Thursday afternoon.
When the deputies pursued the car, the driver shot at them, stopped, got out and then fled into a mobile home in the town of Solvang, where he briefly barricaded himself inside and a woman who was inside safely got out, a Santa Barbara County sheriff’s statement said.
He then stole a gray pickup truck from the mobile home and exchanged fire again with deputies before he was shot and killed, authorities said.
Authorities feared Pinson was in grave danger based on what the witness told deputies transpired on the pedestrian overpass on Wednesday.
The witness reported seeing a girl with a bleeding face pleading for someone to help her as a man armed with a handgun pulled her along. Officials say the witness ran for assistance and heard a gunshot.
Deputies found what appeared to be blood and Pinson’s cellphone on the overpass, and she has not been seen since.
The California Highway Patrol issued the Amber Alert on Thursday asking motorists to be on the lookout for a gold 1997 Saturn sedan in which Solano County authorities think the girl was transported.