California kidnapping suspect believed killed in shootout

In this photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, California Highway Patrol units pursue a car being sought in a statewide Amber Alert in the disappearance of a Northern California 15-year-old girl, as it passes through Buellton on U.S. Highway 101 in Southern California Thursday, May 26, 2016. Fernando Castro was being sought and is believed to be the driver. (AP Photo Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department via AP)

SOLVANG, Calif. (AP) — A young man suspected of abducting a teenage girl in Northern California was killed Thursday after leading sheriff’s deputies on a high-speed chase and engaging in a shootout, authorities said, while the search for the girl continued.

Fernando Castro, 19, whose car had been the subject of an Amber Alert for 15-year-old Pearl Pinson, exchanged gunfire with deputies at a Santa Barbara County mobile home park more than 300 miles to the south, Solano County Sheriff Thomas Ferrara said.

The missing girl, 15-year-old Pearl Pinson of Vallejo, had still not been found hours after the shootout, Ferrara said. Authorities have been frantically searching for Pinson since a witness reported hearing a girl screaming for help as a man dragged her across a freeway overpass in Vallejo on Wednesday morning.

“We continue our search, and we hope to find her alive,” Ferrara said.

Authorities described the two teens as acquaintances, but emphasized that they believe Pinson was taken unwillingly.

The search was set to continue through the night with an expanded search resuming Friday morning.

The sheriff’s department said Santa Barbara sheriff’s deputies spotted the gold Saturn sedan Castro had been seen driving in Vallejo about 300 miles south late Thursday afternoon.

When the deputies pursued the car, the driver shot at them, stopped, got out and then fled into a different vehicle at a mobile home park in the town of Solvang, Ferrara said. More shots were exchanged before the driver was killed, he said.

No other details were provided. The Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department didn’t return calls.

Authorities feared Pinson was in grave danger based on what the witness told deputies transpired on the pedestrian overpass on Wednesday.

The witness reported seeing a girl with a bleeding face pleading for someone to help her as a man armed with a handgun pulled her along. Officials say the witness ran for assistance and heard a gunshot.

Deputies found what appeared to be blood and Pinson’s cellphone on the overpass, and she has not been seen since.

The California Highway Patrol issued the Amber Alert on Thursday asking motorists to be on the lookout for a gold 1997 Saturn sedan in which Solano County authorities think the girl was transported. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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