Fugitive who sparked Montague manhunt arrested in McCloud

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

A parolee-at-large who sparked a manhunt in Montague on Sept. 5 was arrested Wednesday, Sept. 11 in McCloud.

Just before 9 a.m., the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office received a report from a citizen that Joshua Paul Lee, age 42 and formerly of Montague, was observed at a gas station in the McCloud area inside a silver sedan.

A Sheriff’s deputy was in the area at the time of the call, immediately responded to the gas station and located a vehicle matching the description stopped at the gas pumps, the  Sheriff’s Office reported.

The deputy contacted the female driver but the driver accelerated away from the gas station after refusing to follow the deputy’s verbal commands to stop, according to the Sheriff’s Office. She escaped the scene and was last seen traveling north on Broadway Avenue in McCloud.

Lee was not observed in the vehicle at the time of contact and the deputy suspected he exited the car prior to his arrival, the Sheriff’s Office said.

The deputy, with the assistance of a responding California Highway Patrol officer, began searching the immediate area to determine if Lee was hiding at the location, the Sheriff’s Office reported. A Sheriff’s sergeant arrived to assist and after checking the gas station’s surveillance camera, they determined Lee was in the vicinity at the time of the deputy’s arrival, was hiding when the deputy approached, and later was able to re-enter the vehicle before it fled the parking lot.

An extensive search was conducted and assistance was requested from the CHP’s Northern Division Air Operations Unit, which sent a helicopter to search the McCloud area for the vehicle seen fleeing the gas station parking lot, the Sheriff’s Office said.

A vehicle matching the description was located in the 700 block of Oak Street in McCloud.

Sheriff’s Office and CHP units responded and based on information they developed, it was suspected Lee was hiding in a fifth-wheel travel trailer at the location. An occupant of the trailer was questioned but insisted Lee was not in the trailer. She refused to allow a search to confirm her claim.

The Sheriff’s sergeant ordered the evacuation of nearby homes and summoned members of the Sheriff’s Special Response Team, a certified special weapons and tactics-trained team, and a member of Sheriff’s Crisis Response Team, which is trained to conduct hostage negotiations.

Lee was released from prison and was most recently on parole in the Merced, California area; however, he absconded from parole and was wanted by state parole authorities, the Sheriff’s Office said, prompting the use of “utmost caution.”

Contact was made with Lee, who was hiding in the travel trailer. After the negotiator established contact, Lee eventually exited the trailer and surrendered to SRT, CRT, and patrol personnel.

Lee was arrested on the felony fugitive arrest warrant and he may face additional charges associated with other law violations. The driver of the vehicle that fled the gas station, Amanda Wishart, was arrested by for evading arrest, providing false information to a peace officer, and for being an accessory after the fact.

Loren Thompson, the citizen contacted at the travel trailer, was also arrested for providing false information to a peace officer and for being an accessory after the fact.

“Accessory after the fact is normally charged for suspects whom harbor, conceal, or aid a person whom they know has committed a felony, in order to protect him or her from arrest,” the Sheriff’s Office said in a press release.

All three were booked at the Siskiyou County Jail in Yreka, the Sheriff’s Office reported.

“We are relieved Mr. Lee was taken into custody without anyone getting hurt, which is always a favorable outcome in such high-risk operations,” said Siskiyou County Sheriff Jon Lopey. “I would like to take this opportunity to thank the CHP helicopter crew and patrol units, which assisted the SCSO with initial search, perimeter, security, and road closure support, which proved most helpful. The SCSO patrol, SRT, and CST personnel, with allied-agency support, apprehended a potentially-dangerous fugitive, safeguarded the immediate area and its citizens, and conducted this operation safely. The concerned citizens that assisted law enforcement with the initial and later reports of Mr. Lee’s whereabouts were also very instrumental in helping us resolve this search and arrest operation successfully. The arrest of the two female adults that had a role in protecting Mr. Lee also illustrate the fact that those who harbor fugitives from justice often face potentially serious criminal law sanctions for such ill-advised actions.”

Anyone with information about this case is asked to contact the Sheriff’s Office’s 24-hour dispatch center by calling (530) 841-2900.