HWA: Honkers with Attitudes
Chico police arrested a pair of young men from Willows early Monday morning who apparently drove the 40 or so miles to Chico just to shoot out a few windows with a “wrist rocket” slingshot.

The pair may have caused thousands of dollars in damage in just a few short hours, shooting at least 20 vehicles and plate-glass store windows with steel ball bearings, police said.

When asked if the suspects gave any reason for the spree, Chico police Sgt. Lori Mcphail said it appeared the suspects “just did it for the fun of it.”

Nathan Delpape and Matthew Randolph, both 21, were stopped by officers who noticed their car matched a description given by a witness to one of the alleged acts of vandalism. The officers, who were in the process of taking a report from another newly windowless victim when they spotted the suspects’ car, pursued the duo and found the slingshots. The pair was later booked into Butte County Jail on multiple counts of felony vandalism.

Joe Cruces, who owns Cruces Classic Auto on Main Street, said the damage to his store—two giant plate-glass windows were reduced to a three-foot-high pile of safety glass—would cost around $5,000 to fix.

“They nailed me big time,” Cruces said. “This was quite a deal, especially with this kind of weather.”

Cruces, one of many businesses owners who found broken windows Monday, said he was thankful for two things: that none of his classic cars were damaged, and that the Chico Fire Department was able to board up his store before anyone else could gain access to it.

Raging river claims local man
Harsh waters related to recent storms resulted Dec. 27 in the presumed death of a local man in Butte Creek.

Eli Walther, 20, had been duck hunting with longtime family friend Steve Edwards when their canoe hit a log and capsized, sending both men into the water. Edwards made it to shore but Walther did not.

Walther, who was not wearing a life vest, is presumed to have drowned, despite the immediate response and efforts of a large rescue crew.

Janet Marshall, spokesperson for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Butte County, said the “dynamic water rescue” response team included members of the Drowning Accident Rescue Team (DART), along with four fire engines, volunteers from nearby Richvale and the Enloe FlightCare helicopter. They searched the location where Walther was last seen, as well as farther down the river.

Mike Larish, captain of Butte County Sheriff’s Department Search and Rescue, said later recovery attempts on Dec. 29 had to be called off “due to safety concerns for the rescuers.” But a new attempt was planned for Jan. 1, with the main goal being recovery to “provide closure to the family,” Larish said.

He said dogs trained to detect the presence of a person in the water “alerted” to an area just 100 yards from where the men went overboard.

Marshall said that, with the winter rains, local waterways "can turn very, very dangerous within a few hours" and people tent to "overestimate their ability and underestimate the water."