Members of the Modesto Police Department Gang Task Force took Escalon resident Rocky Overturf, 26, into custody late Monday night, Nov. 28. He was turned over to the Escalon Police Department, interviewed, then booked without bail at San Joaquin County Jail on a charge of homicide. Overturf had been on the run since a Nov. 20 incident that resulted in the death of Aaron Messick, 36, of Escalon.
“They had information, apparently, they made a traffic stop on a vehicle near Geer and Hatch Roads and he was a passenger in the vehicle,” Escalon Police Chief Mike Borges explained Tuesday morning regarding the task force involvement in apprehending Overturf. “The vehicle was stopped about 10:15 p.m.; they contacted us and told us they had located him.”
Escalon officers responded to the location to take Overturf into custody and transported him back to the Escalon Police Station. There, he was interviewed by Detective Robert Hardgraves and subsequently booked at the county jail in connection with the death of Messick.
The two men had reportedly had an altercation at the Valley Inn on Main Street late Saturday night Nov. 19/early Sunday morning Nov. 20, with Overturf leaving out the front door of the establishment, driving away in his vehicle. Messick, meanwhile, went out the back door of the bar a short time later and was confronted there by Overturf, who punched Messick, causing him to fall and strike his head.
Overturf then fled the scene as police and emergency services units were called, with CPR being done on the victim when authorities arrived shortly before 12:30 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 20. Messick was pronounced dead and an autopsy later listed the cause of death as blunt force trauma to the head.
Police had been searching for Overturf for more than a week and had run down several leads. A check of the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Department website indicated Overturf was booked at the jail at 1:55 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 29.
“He was booked into county jail on the warrant we had obtained last Wednesday (Nov. 23) for homicide,” Borges said. “We had gotten at least two reports from people that he was going to turn himself in, but he never followed through.”
Borges said police also had received tips a couple of different times regarding Overturf’s whereabouts but he had already left the area when officers arrived.
Finally, the MPD gang unit was successful.
“That’s the nice thing when you have units like that, a gang unit can go anywhere in the county, they have the freedom to focus on one thing, not worry about calls for service or other things,” Borges said. “When they get information, they focus on it and go.”
Borges did not release information regarding the driver of the car or where Overturf had been staying since the incident.
“The District Attorney’s office has the case, they will review it for any charges and they will make the final decision on what charges are actually filed,” Borges said. “I am just thankful they found him. Now the system will take its course.”