James Alexander Oehler of Felton was arrested the day after the shooting when he was found at the crime scene, apparently trying to retrieve the weapon, a semiautomatic handgun.
Santa Cruz police found 26-year-old Bryan Young, a transient who lived at the Coral Street Shelter in Santa Cruz, with gunshot wounds at the levee along Branciforte Creek on May 28. Young was airlifted to a Santa Clara-area trauma center and died as a result of the wounds.
After the shooting, police said, witnesses reported a man and two women running from the area.
During the following investigation, a police K-9 found the handgun buried under several inches of dirt amid thick underbrush and poison oak. Narcotics were also found nearby.
At 11:45 a.m. Saturday, May 29, police received a 9-1-1 call reporting a suspicious person at the crime scene. Officers arrived to find Oehler, who appeared to be looking for the discarded weapon.
Oehler fled from officers, who pursued him through the neighborhood. He was arrested and booked into Santa Cruz County Jail on suspicion of homicide and other related charges.
Young was a transient with a significant criminal history of drug-related arrests, including most recently an arrest in May for having methamphetamine for sale.