Slain Preist Causes Questions

Police: No reason to hold man before priest killed

January 03, 2014

EUREKA, Calif. (AP) — When the body of the Rev. Eric Freed was discovered in the rectory of his church on New Year’s Day, police immediately had a suspect: A man released from jail hours earlier who was spotted on church grounds by a security guard, questioned by a police officer, and then seen again by the same guard, this time holding a wooden stake.

With this coastal city of 27,000 mourning over the death of the popular and charismatic Roman Catholic priest, Eureka police and the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department defended the decision to let Gary Bullock go free hours before Freed was killed.

They see cases like his every day. With no serious criminal behavior to hold him, and no evidence of a psychiatric problem, they say they had to let him go. “This was standard practice,” said sheriff’s Lt. Steve Knight. “It was truly a tragic, tragic event that this happened after the fact. Unfortunately, we release people from our jail because we have to, and they go commit other crimes. There was no indication of anything unusual here.”

Police Chief Andrew Mills agreed. He said after the passing security guard noticed Bullock in the shadows of church grounds, the guard called police, and an officer confronted Bullock on the street in front of the rectory. The officer examined Bullock’s jail papers, did a field sobriety test, determined he was mentally competent to be in public then directed him to the rescue mission a few blocks away.

“In this, I am satisfied our officers did what they could do, given the parameters of the law,” said Mills, a former San Diego police captain who took over as chief two months ago. “The question becomes could we have done other administrative things such as taken him over to the shelter. Would that have been reasonable? We’ll have to wrestle with these questions.”

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5 comments on “Slain Preist Causes Questions

  1. peppermintfarm says:

    Huh? Excuse me but the man was lurking around the church. And they see no reason to hold him for questioning? Something stinks here.


  2. tannngl says:

    He was lurking in the shadows!
    I think the police and the courts have too many to deal with. There are too many they put in prison due to the restrictions on sentencing. Judges have no jurisdiction in many cases-they have sentence as the law says-3 strikes… So it also puts a big burden on the police when prisoners are let out of jail.
    They just get hardened to the mentally ill too. There’s no place for them. Mental health beds are at a premium and the person must be actually threatening to harm another or himself. Now what do you do with a guy who is lurking in the shadows?

    Our culture, justice system and prison system and police are a true MESS.


    • bullright says:

      A pretty good, though chilling, description…lurking.You’re right. How many are in there for non-support or other offenses but this guy gets purged? Should a preacher need armed security? If it weren’t this murder he probably would have done something else. And they place offenders in neighborhoods at will. We’re messed up, that’s for sure.



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