Court dates set for suspects in hoax bomb threat incident at Lake Tahoe | SierraSun.com

Court dates set for suspects in hoax bomb threat incident at Lake Tahoe

Ryan Hoffman Special to the Sierra Sun
Law enforcement units leave the scene of a bomb threat Friday evening on California Route 89.
Ryan Hoffman / Tahoe Daily Tribune

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Court dates have been scheduled for two suspects involved in a hoax bomb scare that ended near Emerald Bay in July.

Alana Blakemore and Hobie Gregory are alleged to have evaded law enforcement in an incident that ended with Hobie fleeing on foot and Blakemore threatening to detonate explosives on California Route 89.

Gregory, 24, was released from custody just days after the incident.

He is slated to appear in court for arraignment on Sept. 20, according to El Dorado County court records. Gregory is facing a charge of resisting arrest, a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum fine of $1,000, up to one year in a county jail or both, according to California’s penal code.

Blakemore, who authorities say was driving the vehicle that day, remains in custody on a felony charge of resisting an executive officer and misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest, according to jail records. The felony charge alone is punishable by a maximum fine of $10,000, up to one year in county jail or both, according to the penal code.

Blakemore, 21, is set to appear in court for a pre-preliminary hearing on Aug. 12, according to court records. Her total bail amount is $70,000.

The chaotic series of events on July 26 triggered a frightful evacuation of a California State Park in Emerald Bay, a sweep for explosives at a Raley’s grocery store and the arrest of two individuals with criminal records in the Carson Valley.

The FBI Las Vegas field office received a report that Blakemore was threatening to do harm to herself and others. The report was forwarded to a branch agency in Reno, where Blakemore was believed to be located, according to Sgt. Anthony Prencipe of the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office. The FBI contacted the Reno Police Department in an attempt to locate her.

Eventually members of an FBI task force notified the Carson City Sheriff’s Office that they were pursuing Blakemore’s vehicle, according to Jerome Tushbant, assistant sheriff with Carson City Sheriff’s Office.

The FBI then informed the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office that unmarked law enforcement vehicles were following Blakemore up and over Spooner Pass into the Tahoe Basin, Douglas Undersheriff Ron Elges told the Tribune.

Scanner traffic at the time suggested the passenger in the vehicle — later identified Gregory — was involved in a robbery. However, Elges said the Douglas deputies were only informed that the woman in the vehicle had warrants for her arrest and possibly explosives.

According to an investigation by California State Parks, Blakemore was the person claiming Gregory was involved in a robbery. She also continued to make ongoing threats regarding explosives.

The FBI field office in Las Vegas did not respond to multiple emails from the Tribune.

The vehicle, a 2005 Mazda sedan, then proceeded to head up Kingsbury Grade toward the Carson Valley. Elges said Douglas deputies barricaded the bottom of the grade at Foothill Road around 2 p.m. in anticipation of the vehicle making it over the pass.

However, Blakemore pulled a U-turn and headed back down Kingsbury Grade toward Tahoe. She then proceeded west on U.S. 50 into South Lake Tahoe, through the city and north on California Route 89.

Around 2:40 p.m., two state park rangers in Emerald Bay State Park were advised of the situation and that the vehicle was near their location. The rangers started following Blakemore’s vehicle and eventually tried to contact her.

Blakemore pulled the vehicle over on California Route 89 north of the parking lot for Vikingsholm.

Gregory took off running east of the highway down the roadside slope toward Vikingsholm, which triggered a large scale manhunt in the area and eventually led to the parking lot being evacuated.

Lauren Gross, a Chicago resident who was visiting Tahoe with her two sisters as part of a road trip, was at the beach in Emerald Bay. From the beach, she could see a long procession of law enforcement vehicles quickly navigating the highway above the bay.

Around 3:10 p.m. they evacuated the park.

“A guy with a megaphone said please evacuate the park, there’s been an emergency,” Gross recalled later that day.

Beachgoers started running up the trail from Vikingsholm to the parking lot above. Gross described a frightening scene with frantic families and heavily-armed law enforcement officers along the trail.

Adding to the alarm, Gross said, was the fact that nobody knew what was going on.

“We definitely went to mass shooter, but we’re in a park. We’re in the middle of nowhere,” Gross said.

A helicopter circled overhead as people waited around the parking lot. Law enforcement had shut down the highway from the park entrance to the opposite side of the scene where Blakemore had abandoned the car.

At the scene, Blakemore had emerged from the vehicle with what appeared to be a device around her neck. Blackemore claimed it was a bomb and she threatened to blow herself up.

Sheriff’s deputies arrived and, with the goal of bringing her into custody, fired a bean bag at her, Prencipe said. The bean bag brought her down and park rangers and deputies moved in to arrest her.

She resisted arrest and claimed to have more explosives in the vehicle, which triggered a response by explosives experts from El Dorado and Douglas counties. The FBI and other law enforcement entities also arrived on the scene.

Prior to her arrest, Blakemore ingested an unknown quantity and type of pills, according to California State Parks.

She was transported to Barton Hospital for drug ingestion and possible overdose, according to South Lake Tahoe police.

She was released back to law enforcement that evening.

Gregory, who had fled on foot down the forested embankment, somehow made it to Baldwin Beach — a 5.5 mile trip by vehicle. From there he hitchhiked to Raley’s at the Y. A passerby had spotted Gregory and followed him to the grocery store.

South Lake Tahoe patrol officers and SWAT team responded to Raley’s and located Gregory with the help of store staff and arrested him, according to police. Law enforcement searched the store and found no explosive devices.

At the scene on California Route 89 near Vikingsholm, authorities determined there were no explosive devices in the vehicle. No weapons were found in the vehicle, according to Prencipe.

California State Parks has closed its investigation into the matter.

Ryan Hoffman is a reporter with the Tahoe Daily Tribune, a sister publication to the Sierra Sun.