The Mendocino County Sheriff's Office (MCSO) announced Sunday that members of the department’s SWAT team found the body of USAF Captain Kevin Larson in Redwood Valley, California, around 1:30 p.m. that day.
The MCSO press release revealed that Larson, a drone pilot at Nevada’s Creech Air Force Base, was wanted after he absconded from court-martial sentencing at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Friday.
Authorities say the Air Force captain fled the state in his 2018 Jeep Wrangler and was later discovered to be in California after he managed to elude a state highway patrol officer during an attempted traffic stop around 4:00 p.m. local time on Saturday.
Air Force special agents of Beale Air Force Base near Marysville, California, were alerted by the MCSO Saturday night and began searching the area in which Larson escaped the following morning. While agents found Larson’s vehicle, and a drone deployed by MCSO identified that he may have been in the Jeep Wrangler for some time Sunday morning, the situation quickly escalated after a single gunshot was heard in the area.
It was then that members of the county’s multi-agency SWAT team were called to the scene and located Larson “deceased approximately 30 yards away from the vehicle in an elevated position on the hillside adjacent to the vehicle,” the MCSO release stated.
Police also found a “high powered rifle” at the scene.
Larson was facing a number of charges amid his trial, which began on January 13, including drug possession, wrongful use and distribution of drugs, assault, fraternization and conduct unbecoming an officer, according to an Air Force docket observed by Stars & Stripes.
Earlier this month, two 20-year-old US airmen stationed at Spangdahlem Air Base in Binsfeld, Germany, were found dead in a dorm room. The January 9 deaths of the two service members, later identified in an Air Force press release as Airman 1st Class Xavier Leaphart and Airman 1st Class Aziess Whitehurst, remain under investigation.
Likewise, a probe into Larson’s death has been launched, although the MCSO noted an “initial scene investigation suggested the wanted service member committed suicide.” An autopsy of the Air Force captain is scheduled for January 22 and will result in an official cause of death.