HUNTINGTON BEACH — Gordan Lynn Cribbs, a high-ranking official for the California Department of Fish and Game, was found shot to death Wednesday afternoon in his home on a quiet cul-de-sac.
Emergency personnel, responding to a call that an unidentified woman had been found unconscious inside Cribbs' home, discovered Cribbs' body shortly before 3 p.m. Wednesday, said Sgt. Chuck Thomas of the Huntington Beach Police Department. Cribbs was pronounced dead at the scene from a gunshot wound to the torso, Thomas said.
Paramedics treated the woman at the scene for an apparent drug overdose and transported her to Pacifica Hospital, where she was reported in critical condition Wednesday night.
Police refused to identify her and said they had no suspects in Cribbs' slaying.
"That's terrible," said Cheryl Heffley, a wildlife biologist with the state Fish and Game Department when informed of Cribbs' death. "I can't believe it. He was a hard-working man, an honest fellow. You could count on him to make a reasonable decision under pressure. He always struck me as a fair and honest person."
Heffley said that Cribbs' wife, Ardith, was a secretary with Fish and Game until she was laid off within the last month. The couple shared a home in the 8700 block of Elgin Circle.
Cribbs was patrol chief for the Fish and Game region that stretched from Santa Barbara to the Mexican border. As a sworn peace officer, the 49-year-old Cribbs was authorized to carry a sidearm while on duty.
Elgin Circle was closed off by yellow police tape Wednesday afternoon as investigators went house-to-house interviewing neighbors, several of whom stood on their lawns chatting quietly. Outside Cribbs' beige home were two vehicles, one registered to Cribbs and a second registered to the state Department of Fish and Game.
Cribbs had been active in efforts to protect area wildlife, particularly those threatened by Caltrans projects, such as the red fox and endangered species of tortoises.
He taught wildlife law enforcement at Orange Coast College. In the early 1980s, one of his students was John Fallan, now a warden with the state Fish and Game Department.
"He was a decent person," Fallan said. "I was just out of high school and wanted to be a game warden. He was very helpful and very encouraging."
When he was unable to join Fish and Game, Fallan joined the California Highway Patrol but stayed in touch with Cribbs.
"He was always very pleasant," Fallan said. "He never forgot me, and always had a word of encouragement for me."
Times correspondent Shelby Grad contributed to this report.