Valley News -

By Trevor Montgomery
Special to the Valley News 

Hours-long Hemet standoff ends in shootout with police, death of suspect


Last updated 11/12/2018 at 11:07am

HEMET -- An hours-long standoff in Hemet that followed a gun battle inside an apartment complex ended Sunday, Nov. 11 after the alleged suspect was reportedly shot and killed by police, according to Hemet Police Lt. Jeff Davis.

Authorities are now investigating the incident, which began when the man fired on officers during a routine traffic stop and fled into the nearby Whispering Pines Apartments. The incident began shortly after 9 a.m. when a man shot at Hemet police officers during a traffic stop in the area of Yale St. and Florida Ave. near a Big Lots store.

An officer who came under fire put out an emergency radio broadcast, advising dispatchers he was chasing a man who had just shot at him. The officer said the man, described as a Hispanic male adult, was last seen running into an apartment complex on Yale St. No officers were injured in that initial shooting.

Officers converged on the scene from around the city and quickly established a perimeter around several area apartment complexes, locking down a large area between S. Girard and Columbia streets and Florida and Acacia avenues.

As officers were locking down the neighborhood, emergency dispatchers received at least one report from an area resident that a man matching the alleged gunman's description was seen going from apartment to apartment, knocking on doors and asking to be let inside to use the bathroom.

Officers already at the scene began a systematic search of several apartment complexes along Yale St. where the man was last seen, and the heavily armed officials - many who were seen wearing ballistic helmets and carrying large-caliber rifles - were seen going door to door searching every apartment for the alleged gunman.

As the search continued sheriff's deputies and CHP officers from throughout southwest Riverside County flooded into the city to assist with the ongoing search. Several K-9's, including a bloodhound tracking dog, and a CHP helicopter also responded to the area to assist.

Officials soon established a command post in the area and requested emergency dispatchers to initiate the city's reverse 911 system to notify area residents about the ongoing situation and request citizens to stay indoors, not to allow anyone they do not know into their homes, and to immediately report any suspicious activity by calling 911. The system was later used to advise residents about evacuations.

Shortly before 11:20 a.m., officers were flagged down by a resident who advised them that a man had gained entry into her residence at the Whispering Pines Apartments on Yale St. The woman told officers the man had possibly locked himself inside her bathroom, as she fled the location.

Several minutes later, official radio traffic indicated that officers who responded to the apartment found a locked bathroom door and immediately came under fire by someone who had barricaded himself inside and was shooting at them through the door.

Several officers reportedly returned fire, even as the gunman continued shooting at them from behind the locked bathroom door. No officers were injured during the exchange of gunfire.

Officials immediately requested additional resources, including an armored tactical rescue vehicle, less-lethal options, ballistic shields, and more. Officers also requested a SWAT call-out due to the man being barricaded and Hemet-Murrieta Joint Special Operations Unit was quickly activated and headed to the scene.

Officers quickly began to evacuate all the apartments surrounding the ongoing incident and were seen guiding citizens away from the dangerous scene.

Firefighters, paramedics, and AMR began to stage in the area, ready to respond to any police, civilian, or suspect injuries.

Officers eventually made telephone contact with the alleged gunman and spent the next hour and a half negotiating with the man, trying to convince him to come out of the apartment and surrender to officials. The alleged shooter refused to cooperate, telling officers he had been shot and wounded during the exchange of gunfire inside the apartment.

As the tense standoff and negotiations continued the man made statements that he wanted to die and made several requests to speak with his wife. Although it was not immediately known if officers were able to contact the suspect's wife, officers brought the man's mother to the scene to assist with the tense negotiations.

Officials eventually deployed a sheriff's robot into the apartment and deputies manning the robot reported finding a man down inside the bathroom with what appeared to be a gunshot wound to the head. Despite the apparent gunshot injury, officers manning the robot reported the alleged suspect was still breathing and still in possession of a handgun.

A short time later officials made entry into the residence where they found the alleged suspect.

The name of the suspect was withheld pending notification of his family.


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