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Man in stand-off had replica of semi- automatic weapon

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POSTED March 1, 2013 1:11 a.m.

A handgun located at the scene where a man engaged police in a four-hour stand-off Wednesday night at a propane company on the southwest corner of the Highway 99 and South Austin Road intersection turned out to be an air soft gun that replicated an authentic semi-automatic handgun, according to a Manteca Police report.

The report also indicated that additional weapons were “located and secured”.

At the end of the stand-off, members of the SWAT team searched the subject and “secured weapons he had in his possession” as well. The man was then transported to a local hospital where he was treated for non-life-threatening injuries. He was still undergoing treatment at press time on Thursday.

The subject was not identified by police. However, during the roughly four hours of negotiation with the man which began shortly before 7 p.m., the negotiator referred to him as Michael.

Officers who arrived at the scene located a male subject in the driver seat of a truck tractor attached to a propane tank trailer in the southwest area of the Van Unen Miersma Propane property. “The truck was jerking around as if the driver was trying to move it but was unable to,” according to police.

Added the police report, “At some point, the subject pointed what appeared to be a firearm in the direction of the officers. Two officers from Manteca Police Department and two officers from the California Highway Patrol fired their weapons at the subject.”

After continued requests by officers for the subject to exit the vehicle with his arms raised achieved no results, the Crisis Response Team and Special Weapons and Tactics Team of the Manteca Police Department were requested and arrived at the scene.

After hours of continued attempts to get the man out of the truck peacefully and still the man refused to comply, SWAT introduced a non-flammable gas into the cab of the truck and the man came out.

Conflicting reports from various callers

Police responded to the incident after receiving numerous calls from people reporting a fire at a propane company on Moffat Boulevard in the City of Manteca. Other callers reported about a collision involving a vehicle into a propane tank. Police also received additional information that there was a shooting and that a victim on scene was shot.

After arriving at the initial location provided by callers and unable to locate any collision incident, a fire or a shooting victim, police continued checking the area until they identified the correct location which was that of the Van Unen Miersma Propane Company with the address location at 20504 S. Highway 99 Frontage Road in Ripon.  The location is just outside the incorporated City of Manteca boundary on South Austin Road at the Moffat Boulevard intersection.

The fire reported by some of the callers happened as a result of the subject hitting one of the company’s propane tanks. A worker at the company who was present when the incident happened said the tank was the one being used by customers to fill up their containers.

“The gas pump was standing on a cement base and the gas hose was facing up in the air. I saw the flames up in the air about 25-30 feet,” said cement worker Tom Moreno who was driving on northbound Highway 99 going home from Modesto to Tracy with his nephew Michael.

Moreno immediately exited the freeway and drove to the scene where he parked his utility pick-up truck directly across the road from the propane company. He and his nephew remained there, watching the police action for a while until one of the officers went up to their truck and told them to leave after getting their names and phone number.

John, the propane company worker, said he was the one who extinguished the fire from the burning tank.

“I was unloading the (company’s) truck when I heard the car coming fast. He rammed his car through the fence,” he said as he stood at the gate, the fire extinguisher on the ground next to him.

“He wanted a transport track – the truck that transports propane,” he said.

After the man rammed the propane tank, he shot John in the arm with a pellet gun. After examining his arm, John determined he was not hurt.

Additional assistance from local area law enforcement agencies were requested while Manteca Police attempted to call the man out of the truck. A helicopter with a powerful search light circled over the area during the long stand-off. Toward the end of the four-hour negotiation with the suspect to come out of his truck and surrender, the helicopter landed at the Austin Road-Moffat Boulevard intersection. At least three Manteca Ambulance District vehicles were also on scene, along with members of the Lathrop-Manteca Fire District that included Chief Gene Neely.

CHP shut down both northbound and southbound Highway 99 to secure the area, as well as parts of Moffat Boulevard and South Austin Road. Traffic was backed up for miles with drivers taking detours at northbound Highway 99 at Jack Tone Road, and at southbound 99 at Yosemite Avenue.

The continuing investigation is being conducted jointly by Manteca Police Department and California Highway Patrol.

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