Bella Vista man charged with molesting children

WRITER’S NOTE: Although the correct images were used in this article, for an unknown reason when the story published to social media, a different title/main image appeared. The issue has since been corrected, however some social media posts will still show the incorrect image. -TM

BELLA VISTA, Calif. — Authorities say a Bella Vista man who allegedly molested two children between 2016 and 2018 has been arrested and is now sitting in jail without bail.

Although the alleged suspect, Gabriel Bartholomew Peterson, 43, of Bella Vista, reportedly became suicidal and fled to Oregon after the allegations came to light, he was apprehended by officials after returning to the area.


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Members of the Shasta County Major Crimes Unit began investigating the alleged incidents on Sept. 22, after they were advised of possible sexual assault involving a minor that occurred between 2016 and 2018, Shasta County Sheriff’s Office – Major Crimes Unit Sgt. Kyle Wallace has since said of the investigation and arrest.

“The confidential victim was removed from the home by other family members once the allegations came to light,” said Wallace; while not revealing the victim’s gender or age. “Based on the information received, the Shasta County Major Crimes Unit began a criminal investigation.”

Gabriel Peterson, 43, of Bella Vista, was arrested after allegations surfaced that he had molested two children. SCSO photo

As their investigation was getting underway, detectives learned Peterson “left a vague suicide note at his residence” and was believed to have fled to the southern Oregon area while possibly armed with a handgun, according to Wallace.

As their investigation continued, detectives located a second confidential victim and both victims positively identified Peterson as the man they allege sexually assaulted them.

Detectives also learned Peterson had returned to Shasta County “and was no longer suicidal based on statements he’d made to family members,” said Wallace.

On Sept. 25, Major Crimes Unit detectives were able to obtain an arrest warrant for Peterson and he was contacted and arrested during a traffic stop in the City of Redding that day.

After his arrest, Peterson was booked into Shasta County Jail in Redding on two counts of lewd and lascivious acts with a minor under the age of 14 and two multiple victim enhancements.

“This investigation in ongoing and additional charges are pending,” said Wallace.

Anyone with additional information regarding this investigation is encouraged to contact the Shasta County Major Crimes Unit at (530) 245-6135 or by email. Callers can refer to incident file number 20S028995 and can remain anonymous.

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Trevor Montgomery, 49, moved in 2017 to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes or has written for several other news organizations; including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, (the now defunct) Valley Chronicle, Anza Valley Outlook, and Hemet & San Jacinto Chronicle; as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County and Mountain Echo in Shasta County.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 30 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 18 grandchildren.