Witnesses: Carjacker killed in shootout was missing baby's dad
REDDING, Calif. — A Northern California couple said Monday that a father who vanished while officers searched for his missing infant daughter stole their car at gunpoint and was the carjacking suspect who police shot and killed after a car chase.
Michael Prado said Matthew Graham, 23, robbed him and his wife of their car Monday morning after sleeping in the yard of their Shasta Lake home overnight.
Authorities traced the car through its navigation system and chased it 48 miles north to Dunsmuir. Police said the carjacker exited the vehicle, holed up in a nearby garage and was shot and killed after exchanging gunfire with authorities.
The Shasta and Siskiyou sheriff's departments declined to confirm Graham was the person shot because they had not notified his family.
Prado said he was certain the man who pointed a gun at him Monday morning was the same person wanted by authorities. Graham's image has been repeatedly shown on local television news and on the front pages of newspapers since Graham reported his daughter's disappearance from his Happy Valley home in Shasta County on July 2.
He became a person of interest after giving inconsistent statements to investigators. The girl, Ember, remains missing.
Authorities say Graham stole a semi-automatic gun from his mother Saturday after hearing that the search for his daughter had turned up a possible lead.
Graham was seen buying cigarettes at a Lake Shasta convenience store on Sunday.
He turned up at Prado's house a few miles away on Monday morning.
Prado went outside to fetch his newspaper about 6:15 a.m. Monday when he noticed the gate to his backyard was open. Checking on his backyard, he noticed that cushions were missing from patio furniture. He went inside to fetch his wife, and when the couple got back outside they were confronted.
"He said, 'Don't be scared. I'm afraid too,'" Prado said. "Stay together."
Prado said it appeared that Graham used the patio furniture cushions as a bed and slept in a side yard.
After Prado retrieved the car keys, Graham made him start the 2007 Buick Lucerne while keeping his wife at gunpoint in the car port.
He then ordered Prado out of the car, got in the car and warned Prado to wait until noon before calling authorities. But moments after Graham drove off, Prado called 911.
An hour later, the Siskiyou sheriff reported shooting the driver of the Buick. Department spokesman Allison Giannini said a formal identification may occur this week.