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2 cops, parolee fall thru second floor ceiling
Police catch burglary suspect the hard way
Members of Manteca Police’s SWAT team advance on the front door of a home on Hunt Road one block west of Union Road searching for a fugitive who had fled into the residence. - photo by GLENN KAHL

Two Manteca Police officers and a fugitive they were wrestling with in the attic of a two-story home all fell through the dry wall ceiling above the staircase landing Thursday afternoon.

Detective Marnix Lub said that if he had been over just one rafter he would have fallen all the way to the ground floor of the residence located at the corner of Hunt Road and Daniels Street, just west of Union Road.  School resource officer Victor Vincent was the other officer to fall though the sheet rock.

The man was taken into custody at the top of the staircase.  They said when he put up a fight it was obvious he didn’t want to return to prison.  The officers were shaken but didn’t sustain any visible injuries.

The Manteca Special Weapons and Assault Team (SWAT) had already cleared the two floors of the house searching for Miguel Lucatero, 26, of Manteca, a parolee-at-large resulting from  a burglary conviction.  He had fled from patrolmen Dave Brown, William Walmer and Armen Avakian some two hours earlier.

SWAT officers had reportedly heard noises in the attic and called for a 12-foot ladder so they could conduct a search above the second floor.  Along with Lub and Vincent in the attic was Rob Armisino and canine officer Grant Flory.

Flory had lifted his police dog  “Spike” up the ladder and into the attic to search out the parolee who police said had hidden himself well off in a far corner — covering himself with insulation.    When the dog began barking as he located the man, the parolee claimed he couldn’t come out because he had a broken leg, police said.

Officers led Lucatero back to the access hole above the staircase where they said he started wrestling with them.  Lub said the man fell through the sheet rock ceiling right out from under him, but the officer was able to grab onto the rafters to break his own fall.

“Spike” had left his mark on the suspect, bighting him on the right shoulder and in the right arm pit, according to his handler officer Grant Flory.  It was the Manteca police dog’s second apprehension in two days.  Wednesday he took down a suspected car thief who fled down the embankment of the Union Road overpass after allegedly stealing a vehicle at Bass Pro Shops.

The saga all began shortly after 2 p.m. in the back yard of a home at 1273 Hunt Road where officers said the parolee ran from them and disappeared into the rear of the home at that address.  Other officers were called in and a perimeter was set up around the house that lasted over two hours.  One of the neighbors said he couldn’t pick his daughter from a nearby elementary school because it had been locked down.

Daniels Street was shut down to traffic in an effort to protect motorists and police officers as well.

The SWAT team gathered at the front of the residence with semi-automatic weapons and ordered anyone inside to come out.  One Hispanic man with a girl, about four years old, was first to exit after about 30 to 45 minutes.  Some 10 minutes later another man in his early 20s exited the front door with his hands raised walking toward the SWAT team gathered near the front of the house — not a suspect and soon released.

Another half hour elapsed and no one else came out the open front door when Sgt. Nick Obligacion lobbed a percussion grenade near the doorway exploding with a large flash — intended to shock the suspect before the officers with their weapons at the ready went through the door.  The grenade did not cause any visible damage or break out any windows.

They found no one in either of the two stories but that was when they heard noises above the second floor ceiling and called for a ladder to investigate.

Attic insulation was scattered down the staircase and on the bottom floor as well.