The vision of Burning Man — a festival that draws thousands to Nevada’s Black Rock Desert yearly — is to “bring experiences to people in grand, awe-inspiring and joyful ways that lift the human spirit.”
But apparently no one shared that message with Tiago Gomez, a 32-year-old from West Hollywood, California. Gomez was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of carjacking a woman right as she left the festival, the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office said in a press release.
The female festival-goer had stopped to help Gomez after seeing him on the road just outside the festival exit, the sheriff’s office said. Instead of accepting the woman’s help, Gomez pulled out a knife, threatened the woman and made off with her car, deputies said.
The woman reported the carjacking to deputies once she made it to Gerlach, Nevada — “which is about the closest piece of civilization to where Burning Man takes place,” Bob Harmon, a sheriff’s office spokesman, said in a phone interview.
Finding the stolen car didn’t take long, Harmon said.
“Within five minutes of her making contact with us, a couple other units spotted the vehicle with the suspect matching the description,” Harmon said.
Gomez tried to run away from Bruno’s Country Club, where the car was found, deputies said.
Deputies followed him and told him to drop the knife, but he wouldn’t listen, according to the sheriff’s office. A police dog was then released, but Gomez still refused to comply with officers. He then beat and kicked the animal, the sheriff’s office said.
Finally, deputies arrested Gomez on charges of resisting a public officer and mistreating a police animal. Harmon said that authorities in Pershing County, where the carjacking took place, are investigating the armed car theft.
As for the canine?
“The dog’s fine and is back at work” Harmon said. “No injuries.”
That’s more than Gomez can say: He remains in custody in Washoe County, according to the sheriff’s office.
Harmon said it’s likely Gomez was at the festival, “because I don’t know why else you would be out there.”
Still, Harmon said, crime related to Burning Man is uncommon.
“I can’t recall in my memory an incident like this,” Harmon said, saying the carjacking is “not typical type of behavior.”