A seven-hour long manhunt for an alleged kidnapper on Pacific Coast Highway had some Corral Canyon residents concerned for their safety early Monday. As helicopters searched overhead, they had little information other than news reports.
The search for Jaci Barragon, 32 began just after 2 a.m. Monday when a deputy went to investigate a Nissan Sentra parked on the side of PCH at Corral Canyon Road. A deputy managed to place a handcuff on Barragon's right wrist, but there was a struggle and Barragon ran away, prompting a massive search by land and air. A woman, who was apparently kidnapped and sexually assaulted, was taken to a hospital for treatment.
One Corral Canyon resident said he awoke to the sound of helicopters.
"I called the sheriff's department and they said they are looking for a man ... and that it would be best to stay inside with doors locked," he said in an email to Malibu Patch.
Barragon remains out of custody and the search is continuing.
The city of Malibu and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department both have Nixle accounts, which send out alerts to residents with public safety information. The city of Malibu contracts with the sheriff's department for its policing services.
No alerts were sent out by either account to Malibu residents.
Several residents questioned why they were not informed officially by the city.
"I am wondering why the City's Emergency Connect system did not notify residents of this active manhunt in our city. After all this guy is an escaped kidnapper/car thief that is as I write this, hiding and lurking around the hills of Malibu. Needless to say parents at the school I dropped my kids off at this morning, which is in relative close proximity to the manhunt, are a little freaked out," according to a comment posted by a user named "Zuma Skipper."
Mari Stanley, a Malibu resident, wrote that she was concerned about the lack of official communication from the city.
"We have a right to demand that public funds are expended with maximum public benefits realized. The city has a fiduciary responsibility to the public and should be held accountable for such an indiscretion as this," Stanley said.
According to Malibu's spokeswoman Olivia Damavandi, the city's reason is simple.
"The city was not alerted about the situation this morning," Damavandi said. "When the sheriff's department provides the city about incidences that affect Malibu residents, we help promulgate the message via our communications channels. However, nobody at the city was made aware of this morning's incident from the sheriff's department."
Damavandi said when public safety issues are under the jurisdiction of another agency, "it is the responsibility of that governing agency to disseminate the information."
After Damavandi's response, City Manager Jim Thorsen clarified that he did receive a notification at 2:18 a.m., but the city's Emergency Services Coordinator, Brad Davis, was left off the email list.
"Normally the Sheriff Dept. does an excellent job of notifying various city individuals of incidents within our vicinity. Typically both Brad Davis and I receive information. I did receive an email at 2:17 a.m. from the Sheriff Dept. with minimal details about the incident, but did I did not check email until this morning," Thorsen said.
Thorsen said Davis was out sick and was unaware of the search. Davis often sends out Nixle alerts for the city.
The last Nixle alert sent out by the city of Malibu was on Dec. 6 when Las Flores Road was closed in both directions for several hours.
Lt. Jim Royal, who was off duty during the early morning search, said the sheriff's department sent a notification to the city soon after the manhunt began.
"We communicate with the city every time and we did this time. Every major media organization had this thing," Royal said, adding that he will make some inquiries to add the city's spokeswoman and emergency services coordinator to the notification list in the future.
Royal said the department also provided information to the media as it was available through interviews. He said the department normally sends out Nixle alerts about lesser known events.