FERNDALE — An impromptu manhunt for a murder suspect who has been on the run for more than two years erupted Monday in Ferndale after the suspect was possibly spotted fleeing from a car that had just been pulled to the side of the road.
According to the Bellingham Herald, the incident started when a Whatcom County sheriff’s deputy pulled over a woman for a routine traffic stop Monday in a remote area of Whatcom County. As soon as the vehicle came to a stop, a man dressed in black jumped out of the passenger side door and sprinted into the tall grass. The woman told the deputy the man was Salvador Rodriguez — also known as Chuco — a felon wanted for killing a 22-year-old man in attempted drug robbery in 2011.
Deputies launched a large manhunt for the running man which included a border helicopter and neighboring police agencies around 9:30 a.m. Monday, the Herald reported. Agents couldn’t find the runner, but a man matching the original description was spotted covered in mud around 2 p.m. not far from the area. He was still not located by officials.
However, as the search was ongoing, the woman’s story changed, saying it wasn’t Rodriguez and it was instead a boyfriend or someone else, the Herald reported. By the afternoon, deputies said they weren’t even “90 percent sure” the man was Rodriguez because the woman kept changing her story.
The woman’s identity has not yet been released.
Salvador is charged with the murder of Jesse Winchester, who in 2011 allegedly tried to rob Rodriguez and his brother of drugs and cash. The robbery escalated into a gun battle and Winchester was shot and killed. Rodriguez’s brother was arrested after fleeing to Mexico, but Salvador remained at large. He was not expected to be in the area prior to the manhunt, police said.
Rodriguez is 5’7″, 150 pounds with brown hair and brown eyes, the Herald reported. Anyone with information on him or his whereabouts should call 911.