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Starter gun shooting with laser triggers deployment of 30 cops

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POSTED April 16, 2009 5:27 a.m.
The sounds of gunshots rattled Manteca’s Mission Ridge area immediately behind Wal-Mart at about 11:15 p.m. Tuesday with patrolmen responding to frantic calls from residents saying there was a shooter in their neighborhood.

Manteca Police officers arrived in the 300 block of Marsala Court within minutes, hearing another 10 rounds being fired apparently from a back yard.  At first they thought it was a rifle because of the report from the weapon.  The shots were coming from a home where police had been dispatched to on prior calls.

First on the scene were officers Greg Beall and Adam McCallum.  They were quickly joined by Dan Chestnut, Will Mueller, Brian Ellnis and Aaron Montoya.  Beall said they first assembled on the nearby Mission Ridge Drive to determine their positions.

They soon heard another volley of three or four shots, Beall said. One officer alerted the others to a suspect seen lying prone on the ground in front of the house with a red laser sight that could be seen pointing at them.  Officers said the man retreated to the back yard of the residence.

With the strange series of events, the officers were fearing that the man might be trying to lure them into an ambush. Beall said they were chiefly concerned for the safety of the residents in the neighborhood.

Sgt. Joe Aguilar called out tactical and crisis response teams with mutual aid officers responding from several departments around Manteca.

30 officers respond within 30 minutes
Within some 30 minutes their call for backup brought a total of 30 officers to the scene and to a command center that was set up in the Mervyn’s Department Store parking lot at Mission Ridge and South Main Street.

Officers responded from Tracy, the Sheriff‘s Department, Modesto, Stockton, and Ripon along with  Manteca Ambulance, and the Manteca Fire Department.  The SWAT teams from Manteca Police Department and the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office were also activated.

Police spokesman Rex Osborn said they needed the best tactical officers on the scene because of the 30-year-old man’s known military history and training.
 
The command post motor home, housed at the Tracy Police Department,  was driven to Manteca within about 20 minutes. Modesto Police Department brought their “Bear Cat” armored vehicle to the Manteca command post after being called for mutual aid.

Modesto officer Rich Armandiz brought a three member SWAT team to Manteca. Armandiz started as a reserve officer in Manteca. Osborn said he made it to Manteca within 20 minutes.

Sergeants Tony Souza and Ralph Colin developed the tactical plan at the scene not knowing exactly where the suspect was holding up or just what his intentions were at the time.

Sergeants Tony Souza and Nick Obligacion were in charge of the Manteca SWAT team. Jodi Estarzio headed up the Crisis Response Team (CRT) charged with handling negotiations.  Two Tracy Police units drove to Manteca to handle the department’s calls while local officers were on the scene on Mission Ridge. They were later relieved by officers who were called in from home.

Telephone contact to bring about any communications between the police and the suspect were hindered because there was no house phone.  Later Wednesday morning a relative from Fresno was contacted and had the man’s cell phone number - but he didn’t answer.

Officers get woman, 4-year-old girl out of home
Tactical  officers  were finally able to lead a woman and a four-year-old girl out of the residence. but the suspect apparently ignored officers’ demands that he leave the house. The woman, who had been in the home,  told officers he was probably upstairs asleep. She said his actions that night had been “suspicious” and they had been having issues, police said.

Officers used a bull horn to order the suspect to the door with his hands up, but he did not respond, they said.  They announced they were going to use a flash-bang grenade - something that got his attention and probably half the neighborhood as it exploded on the front porch.

Officers said he then exited the home about 6 a.m. and was detained by police. They found shell casings in the back yard and inside the home.  The weapon police found was a starter gun used for track meets complete with a laser sight.

Police had gone door-to-door early on telling people to stay in their homes.  A reverse telephone warning system was put into play by community service officer Linda Silva that told residents they should not go out of their houses because of the emergency situation in the neighborhood. They were also told to call 911 immediately if anything unusual was happening at their homes.

A second recorded telephone message went out shortly after 6 a.m. telling residents that the police action was over and they could resume their normal plans to leave for work or school.

SHARP officers had also been called out to transport anyone in fear of staying in their homes to the Manteca Fire Department station on Union Road where they could feel safe.

Osborn also lauded Lucky Shaw of the streets department for responding to the scene within 10 minutes of being called at home.  He was needed to set out road barriers at Mission Ridge and Main Street, Mission Ridge and Bordeaux and Tahoe and Bordeaux.

Osborn said officers eventually released the suspect, but noted they are forwarding the details of the case to the district attorney’s office for any decision on prosecution.
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