A Del Norte man says he was wronged when the Sheriff's Office told the public to be wary of him when the department said it had no plans to arrest him.
Elden Barker and another man were named on the department's Facebook page in a post about what it called a "scam" involving knocking on doors late at night in the North Bank Road area. The post said detectives have identified them as "currently working the 4900 block of North Bank Rd."
Sheriff Dean Wilson told the Triplicate last week he believes the pair is looking for homes to rob but also said he is not at this time seeking to arrest either man.
Barker said he doesn't understand how the department can tell the public to avoid contact with him without charging him with a crime.
"I'm not perfect, I have my flaws, but I don't need these accusations when there's no charges," he said.
Barker said he came to the area from Susanville about three months ago with hopes of starting a cabinetmaking or yard work business, but the warning about him has left Barker worried about job prospects and his safety.
Comments from other Facebook users in response to the Sheriff Department's post include a statement saying Barker and the other man "look criminal" and another that said anyone who doesn't shoot them as soon as the men come onto theirproperty is not paying attention.
"That's messing with my life. People want to shoot me," he said.
Barker said he recently came to the department's attention on North Bank Road when he tried to avoid a traffic stop for driving without a license.
Barker was driving the other man named by the Sheriff's Office to the store early in the morning after they met at a third party's house, he said. Barker said he had met the man briefly just once before.
After Barker saw deputies following him, he pulled into a driveway, got out of the car and said he was just seeing if the property owners had any yard work for him.
"My intentions were nothing like they said," Barker told the Triplicate.
Wilson said that he released the names based on the report of the lead investigator, Detective Bob
"We got a report of a suspicious vehicle in the area," Barber told the Triplicate. "Our deputies responded to see what was going on. We saw a rundown vehicle driving around in a nice residential area. We made contact at about 7:30 in the morning. It was them, and they said they were trying to drum up business for lawn mowing."
Barber noted that the two men didn't have any lawn-mowing equipment in the vehicle.
Barker was arrested on a weapons charge at that time, Barber said.
Barber said burglaries have been reported in the North Bank area, and although the Sheriff's Office isn't ready to seek a warrant just yet, the investigation is ongoing.
"We wanted the public to be aware of what is going on," Barber said.