Wanted Victoria man arrested in U.S. after Coast Guard rescue, bizarre fish incident at 'Goonies' house
A man wanted in Victoria, B.C., is now in custody in the U.S. after a bizarre series of events, including a dramatic ocean rescue by the Coast Guard and the placing of a dead fish at the house made famous by the 1985 film "The Goonies."
On Jan. 19, Victoria police announced a B.C.-wide warrant had been issued for Jericho Labonte, who was wanted on charges of criminal harassment, mischief and three counts of failure to comply. On Friday night, he was arrested in Astoria, Ore.
Earlier that day, a crew with the U.S. Coast Guard was taking part in a training operation at the mouth of the Columbia River when they received a mayday call. That section of the ocean is known as “the graveyard of the Pacific” due to its notoriously rough seas.
Petty Officer Michael Clark said boat crews located a Sandpiper yacht taking on water with a man on board. The conditions were too dangerous to try retrieve the man by boat, so rescue swimmer Branch Walton was sent to grab him.
Just as Walton reached the vessel, it was hit by a massive wave, so powerful that the craft rolled over and ended up floating upright.
“I kinda got thrown around a little bit by the wave and when I came up I noticed that the boat was pretty much in shambles,” Walton said.
The man on board was pulled to safety and taken to hospital suffering mild hypothermia. The U.S. Coast Guard posted a picture of the rescue and the man was recognised as the same person wanted in connection to a bizarre incident at the "Goonies" house two days earlier.
A man with the name Jericho Labonte posted a video to Facebook showing himself placing a dead fish on the porch of the home. In the video, he can be heard saying, “Best $500 I ever spent, thanks British Columbia.” The incident was also captured by surveillance cameras.
By the time police realized Labonte was the man found by the Coast Guard, he had been discharged from hospital.
“Connections were being made that it was the same person and that he was at the hospital, and by the time we got involved, he had been released from the hospital,” Astoria Police Chief Stacy Kelly said, adding that the Sandpiper yacht was also reported stolen.
On Saturday, police said Labonte was taken into custody at a warming shelter.
Victoria police told CTV News in an email that they were still waiting for confirmation that the man in custody in Oregon was the same Labonte wanted in B.C.
It was later confirmed by Kelly in an email to CTV News.
“It is the same person,” he wrote. “An officer from Victoria has contacted one of our sergeants.”
Labonte’s charges in the U.S. include theft, endangering another person, unauthorized use of a vehicle and criminal mischief. It’s not yet known if he will be brought back to Canada.
With files from The Associated Press
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