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    Deputies Killed Suspected Murderer and Target of 2-Week Manhunt - Official

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    Following an 18-day manhunt across a mountainous swath of central California, law-enforcement officials believe they fatally shot a man suspected of murdering a retired dentist, wounding two SWAT team members, and kidnapping three people.

    Kern County Officials say the suspect Benjamin Ashley, 34, was killed near a convenience store after deputies received reports that he had been there. Two deputies caught up to him and shot him after Ashley brandished a handgun, according to Sheriff's spokesman Ray Pruitt.

    Ashley is accused of kidnapping three men and holding them hostage for an hour before they escaped on July 28 after the men had alleged Ashley squatted on their cabin property. Ashley is also accused of killing retired dentist David Louis Markiewitz, whose body was found on July 30. Authorities say Ashley attacked and wounded two SWAT team members on Aug. 1 after they entered a mobile home where he was hiding.

    Kern County Sherriff Donny Youngblood told the Bakersfield Californian newspaper that it was “really incredible” that Ashley had evaded capture for as long as he did even as “everywhere he turned, there was a cop in the mountains.”

    During the manhunt which involved more than 150 law-enforcement officers, two local elementary schools and a middle school were closed. County residents were also told to lock their doors and stay inside for as long as they could during the search.

    “Our biggest concern, our primary concern throughout this entire operation was that someone else would get hurt before we found this person and took him into custody,” Pruitt told the Bakersfield Californian. “That’s why we’ve worked night and day, 24/7.”

    The chase came to end this weekend after the suspect walked into Brady’s Mini Mart. The store’s manager Gray Welfl recognized the man walking in with three duffle bags, a backpack and a walking stick. Welfl then texted his sister to call 911 and made small talk with the man to buy time.

    An autopsy would be preformed to properly identify the body.

    “I’m confident that it’s him,” Youngblood said. 

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    Tags:
    manhunt, crime, David Louis Markiewitz, Ray Pruitt, Benjamin Ashley, Kern County
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