Five armed men allegedly stormed a Kenwood home on the northwestern slope of Hood Mountain Tuesday morning, a theft thwarted by Sonoma County Sheriff's deputies, who also arrested the robbery victim on suspicion of growing marijuana and possessing it to sell it, Sheriff's officials said.
Deputies received a frantic 911 call from a resident in the 7000 block of Cougar Lane in Kenwood at around 8 a.m. Tuesday, with the resident saying that five men with a variety of guns broke into his house and robbed him, Sheriff's Lt. Steve Brown said. Sheriff's officials did not say exactly what was was alleged to have been stolen.
The resident, identified as John Orgon, said there were four other people at the home at the time of the incident.
As deputies responded to the scene, they stopped two vehicles leaving the area and arrested five men on suspicion of armed robbery:
- Richard Heuser, 35, a transient
- David Ortiz, 47, from Sebastopol
- Mario Ratliff, 41, from Vallejo
- Kenneth Wiepert, 45, a transient
- Charles Hewitt, 50, from Vallejo
Brown said that all five suspects were positively identified by the victims and by a video surveillance camera on the property.
After taking the suspects into custody, Sheriff's deputies attempted to approach the residence but Orgon allegedly told them that they were not allowed on his property, Brown said. Orgon refused to open two gates that led to the property, he said.
When deputies arrived at the property to further investigate the incident, they found a large outdoor marijuana grow operation, Brown said. Since 2010, the property has been home to two organizations, American Medicinals and the Life Is Art Foundation, from the site.
Deputies arrested Orgon and interviewed other residents of the property, Brown said, and the investigation into both the alleged armed robbery and the pot-growing operation is ongoing, he said.