Woman, Three Men Arrested in Connection With Two Hate Crimes in Ventura County

The attacks sparked a second investigation which led detectives to arrest a known white supremacist, who was determined not to be involved in the assaults.

View Comments ()
|
Email
|
Print

    NEWSLETTERS

    A woman and three men are in custody in connection with a pair of violent hate crimes that apparently targeted Latino campers in Rose Valley earlier this year, the Ventura County Sheriff's Department announced Thursday.

    The first attack happened on Sept. 7 when several people were attacked with baseball bats at Middle Lions Campground near Highway 33, said Det. Mike Harris. One person suffered a broken arm in the assault.

    During the attack, the suspects aimed racial slurs at both the victims and witnesses, officials said. The victims managed to run away from the campground and call 911.

    That night, a group of hunters – all Latino men – were camping near Rose Valley Campground when the group allegedly assaulted them with baseball bats and hurled racial slurs at the victims.

    Andrew Martin, 20; Mya Braschler, 20; Kirk Smets, 19; and Forrest Darrough, 20, (pictured clockwise from top left, at right) were arrested Wednesday for their suspected roles in the attacks, officials said.

    The four suspects, all from Ventura, each have been booked on felony assault with a deadly weapon, conspiracy, and violation of civil rights by force or fear, Harris said.

    Braschler was released on $20,000 bail, Harris said. Darrough, Smets and Martin remained jailed late Thursday on $20,000, $40,000, and $45,000 respectively.

    The men are scheduled to appear in court at 1:30 p.m. Friday. Braschler's court date is scheduled for Dec. 19.

    An investigation into the attacks led detectives to known white supremacist and convicted felon, Ryan Vanausdell, 37, of Oak View.

    "One of the suspects was a frequest visitor, a friend, and stayed at Vanausdell's house," Harris said. "During the investigation is when Vanausdell's name came up."

    That tip sparked an investigation that led detectives to Vanausdell’s Oak View home, where a search warrant turned up two assault weapons, two rifles, two shotguns, one handgun, and high-capacity ammunition magazines, Harris said.

    Detectives initially thought Vanausdell may have some knowledge about the attacks, but it was determined that he was not involved, Harris said.

    Still, Vanausdell (pictured at right) was arrested on suspicion of felony possession of firearms by a felon and possession of bullets containing an explosive agent, Harris said. Vanausdell is out on $100,000 bail.

    CLARIFICATION: This article originally reported that all five of the suspects named were arrested in connection with the pair of hate crimes. All but Ryan Vanausdell have been connected to the alleged attacks, according to Det. Mike Harris.

    Follow NBCLA for the latest LA news, events and entertainment: iPhone/iPad App | Facebook | Twitter | Google+ | Instagram | RSS | Text Alerts | Email Alerts