Arrested deputy escapes custody, Kern County sheriff says

Kern County Sheriff’s Office issued this wanted poster for Edward Gordon Tucker, 44.
Kern County Sheriff’s Office issued this wanted poster for Edward Gordon Tucker, 44. Courtesy of The (Bakersfield) Californian

A Kern County sheriff’s deputy arrested on suspicion of weapons and drug offenses managed to escape from custody Tuesday by slipping out of his handcuffs, reaching his arm through a back patrol car window that was left slightly down, and opening the car door.

Deputy Edward Tucker then walked away from the underground parking garage of the downtown Bakersfield jail, and it wasn’t noticed that he was missing for between five and 15 minutes, sheriff’s spokesman Ray Pruitt said Wednesday.

Go to The Bakersfield Californian for ongoing coverage of the case

Pruitt said a “large search operation” was ongoing for Tucker, who may have access to firearms and should be considered armed and dangerous. A reward of up to $5,000 was being offered for information leading to his arrest.

A storage unit connected to Tucker was searched Wednesday, but Pruitt said he did not know what, if anything, it contained.

Tucker, 44, had been arrested Saturday on suspicion of brandishing a gun at children but was free as of Tuesday. He was rearrested Tuesday night after he was again allegedly found in possession of guns and drugs, and was driven to the downtown jail following his 9:45 p.m. arrest.

The deputy who drove Tucker to the jail exited the vehicle and left Tucker handcuffed in the back seat, Pruitt said. He walked to the rear of a second patrol car parked at the garage and spoke with another deputy as he filled out paperwork in preparation for booking Tucker into jail.

It was during that time Tucker made his escape by reaching for the outdoor handle, Pruitt said. The back doors of patrol vehicles don’t have door handles on the inside.

Tucker exited the vehicle from the opposite side of where the deputies were standing, Pruitt said. No one saw him walk away, but part of the escape was captured on surveillance video.

Tucker has been a deputy with the Sheriff’s Office for nearly 19 years and has been on a leave of absence since October 2014, said Devin Brown, employee relations officer with Kern County Human Resources.

The deputy was first arrested Saturday on suspicion of brandishing a firearm in front of a residence, being under the influence of a controlled substance while in possession of a firearm, possession of a controlled substance, driving under the influence, and felony willful cruelty to a child.

Tip lines 661-391-7719 Kern County Sheriff’s Office, 661-861-3110 Kern County Secret Witness, 661-322-4040

Tucker is accused of brandishing a gun at two 12-year-old girls in that instance. Pruitt said five handguns, two shotguns and an assault rifle were in his possession.

He was released on bail, but it wasn’t immediately known when, or what his bail was. Pruitt said deputies tried but were unable to obtain a search warrant for Tucker’s residence on Saturday.

Deputies received a call Tuesday evening to check on the welfare of Tucker, and they found him in a vehicle at San Lauren Park in Rosedale. Pruitt said deputies searched the vehicle and found firearms, drugs and possible bomb-making materials.

Tucker was arrested on suspicion of being under the influence of a controlled substance, being under the influence of a controlled substance while armed with a firearm, possession of methamphetamine, possession of an illegal weapon, and possession of paraphernalia.

Kern County court records show no previous offenses listed against Tucker.