Sheriff’s office investigates possible Westwood homicide

The Lassen County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a possible domestic violence incident in Westwood on Saturday as a possible homicide.

According to a statement from the LCSO, Melanie Ann Hines, 41, of Westwood, was arrested Saturday, June 3, on a second-degree murder charge and transported to the Lassen County Jail.

The victim, Austin Andrew Howell, 25, of Westwood, suffered from a gunshot wound to the abdomen and was pronounced dead at the scene despite approximately 30-minutes of life-saving efforts by medical personnel.

According to a statement from the LCSO, about 12:51 p.m. Saturday, June 3,  deputies were dispatched to a residence on the 200 block of Elm Street in Westwood. While enroute, dispatch advised responding deputies that a male subject had been shot in the alleyway behind a residence and that the female suspect was still on scene.

Upon arrival, the deputies immediately detained Hines.  Officers from the California Highway Patrol also arrived on scene and assisted in securing the area and coordinated a medical response to treat Howell.  Engines from CalFire, Westwood Fire and an ambulance from Peninsula Fire Department responded and attempted life-saving efforts on the victim.  After approximately 30 minutes, life-saving efforts were stopped and the victim was pronounced deceased at the scene.

Detectives are actively investigating the incident as a homicide, however, the investigation is still in the preliminary stages, and domestic violence may have played a role in this incident. The LCSO would like the citizens of Westwood to know this is an isolated incident, and there is no threat to public safety at this time.

The LCSO would like to thank the CHP, United States Forest Service, CalFire, Westwood Fire and Peninsula Fire for their assistance.

If anyone has any information regarding this case, you are urged to call the LCSO at 257-6121.