The double murder is taking a toll on the valley bounty hunting community; many here in Fresno say they're saddened by the news. Hunters say the job dangers are real and growing.
Many bounty hunters say they don’t necessarily always fear for their safety but concerns for law enforcement and the community is growing as their business declines.
Each case begins with a face, one that will more than likely hit the pavement. The chase is a reality for bounty hunters. It's Barry Pearlstein's day job. “You have to be aware of the fact that the person you’re approaching may or may not be armed and expect the unexpected,” says Barry Pearlstein who owns the Lucky Bail Bonds in Fresno.
The job means carrying a gun, badge and a vest but not every bounty hunter dresses for the occasion. “I come in as a surprise; I wear plain clothes and say I'm Mike, Bob or Lou,” says one Fresno Freelance Bounty hunter that would rather not reveal his name. We’ll call him Lou; he's a freelance hunter based in Fresno.
I’ve experienced physical violence in a couple of cases and I have been involved in a gun being pointed at me. I was also involved in a shooting in Missouri,” says “Lou”.
“If I can get the suspects to come out, I then have someone go around back and grab them,” explains Lou.
Recently part of tackling a bounty hunting job is to get a case. In Fresno, hunters are losing business to jail overcrowding. “The reality no one is looking for them,” says Pearlstein. “Right now, they’re being released and they aren’t secured.” “We have no right to go after a person not under contract with bondsmen; they know they can go out in the community and commit more crimes,” says Lou.
Many criminals being released have been arrested 5 to 8 times and are back on the streets with little repercussions. Bounty hunters say 75% released without bond never show up to court and the violence among repeat offenders is growing.
“Sometimes we forget the dangers,” says Lou. But not this week as two of their own were shot and killed in Bakersfield while on a job. It’s a sober reminder a chase can turn deadly. “I want to tell the people of Bakersfield we're sorry for their loss,” says Lou. “It’s sad when anyone attempts to make a lawful arrest and something this serious goes wrong where two people lose their lives,” says Pearlstein.
Dog the Bounty Hunter says he may fly out to Bakersfield as early as Saturday. He says if police do not find the man responsible for the murder of the two hunters in Bakersfield, he will find the man himself.
Christina Lusby Reporting.