Gunman who killed deputy and 2nd man in Modesto is presumed dead
UPDATE, Apr 13, 2012 (The Modesto Bee - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
8:10 a.m. Investigators are waiting for clearance from fire officials so they can enter what's left of the home that was destroyed by fire overnight. A man who gunned down a sheriff's deputy and another man yesterday had holed up inside the apartment on Chrysler Drive.
Modesto Police officer told KCRA TV in a live broadcast just after 8 a.m. that police expected they'd gain access to the home "within the next six to eight hours."
UPDATE -- 6:55 a.m. At dawn, fire crews were mopping up hot spots in the home on Chrysler Drive that caught fire and was badly damaged overnight. A gunman who killed a sheriff's deputy and another man there Thursday morning had holed up and a long standoff ensued. Sheriff Adam Christianson said the gunman is presumed dead in the rubble.
UPDATE -- 6:20 a.m. A sheriff's deputy and another man trying to serve an eviction notice at an apartment complex were shot dead Thursday by a man who holed up and began a long standoff. A raging fire broke out at the home, and as dawn approached today it was presumed the suspect was dead.
Early today, Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson said authorities planned to search for the gunman's remains.
"We exhausted every option to try to get the suspect to surrender," Christianson said.
The home was ravaged by the fire, which broke out before 10 p.m. Reporters and photographers were not allowed to get close enough to see how bad the damage was.
The sheriff said everyone living in or near the building had been evacuated, so the fire didn't put anyone's life in danger.
Unknown as of 6 a.m. were the identity of the suspect and the name of his second victim. On Thursday evening, Christianson identified the sheriff's deputy killed as Robert Paris.
Christianson said Deputy Paris was a person who loved serving his community. "He paid the ultimate price for protecting and serving our community."
He said his thoughts were also with the family of the other man who was killed.
A sheriff's deputy and another man trying to serve an eviction notice at an apartment complex were shot dead Thursday morning by a man who holed up and began a 12-hour standoff, surrounded by a battalion of SWAT teams. Later, a raging fire broke out at the home.
About 9:45 p.m., a fire official said reported a fire on the second floor. By 10:20, flames were leaping into the air and were visible from down the street. Because of the threat posed by the suspect, firefighters could not approach the building. Instead, they used a high-pressure hose from a ladder truck.
The suspect was believed to be on the first floor. It was not clear how the fire began, but Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson acknowledged that a combination of flash-bang devices and tear gas could have been responsible.
About 8:45 p.m., six SWAT officers rushed toward the apartment. Sharp bangs from concussive devices were heard for more than an hour. Officers used loudspeakers to communicate with a man they called "Jimmy," asking him to "pick up the phone" and assuring him he would not be harmed.
No one came out.
Earlier in the day, officers broke the windows of the apartment with bean bags, then shot tear gas into the unit.
The standoff began about 11 a.m., right after the shootings. Law enforcement from throughout the region responded and helped to evacuate the neighborhood.
About 6:30 p.m., the Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department identified the deputy killed as Robert Paris, 53, a 16-year veteran. The other victim's name was being withheld pending notification of his relatives.
A man who lives nearby the shooting site and did not give his name said the deputy and the man with him apparently were drilling through the lock on the apartment door in the 2100 block of Chrysler Drive when the suspect fired at them from inside.
Yemen Zokari and Steven Gasterlum, who said they live two doors down from the suspect, heard shots and saw two men on the ground, one on his stomach and the other on his back.
"There was another officer that was kneeling on the side of the house while they were laying there," Zokari said. "I think he was staying out of the way from being shot.
"We just felt so bad. We wanted to do something but you can't. What can you do? It's traumatizing to see them."
"I heard a gunshot," said another witness who did not give his name. "Then I heard four gunshots. Then I heard three gunshots, then another four."
Dozens of emergency vehicles converged on the apartment complex. SWAT teams from Stanislaus and neighboring counties surrounded the building.
About 8 p.m., loud noises could be heard outside the unit. Officers then sent a robotic device toward the entrance in an effort to see inside. About 8:40 p.m., more loud noises were heard.
More than 100 law officers from at least 15 agencies came to assist the Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department and Modesto police.
Earlier in the day, Christianson said officers were sure the suspect was inside the home.
"We don't know anything about him," he said shortly after noon. "We don't know what the motive is behind this shooting. All we know is that we have two people dead, and a deputy sheriff, one of my valued members of my team, is dead."
As is standard practice, two deputies arrived to serve the eviction notice. The civilian reportedly was a locksmith. Christianson said the second deputy was not wounded. The sheriff initially said he did not believe the surviving deputy returned fire, but Thursday night he said the deputy did shoot.
The shootings occurred at Whispering Woods, a development of two-story fourplex apartments formerly known as Prescott Estates. Officers evacuated the entire complex because they feared the suspect was armed with explosives that might be detonated.
Longtime resident Cheryl Seals, who lives kitty-corner from where the shooting happened, said a father and his son live in the surrounded apartment. She estimated the older man's age at mid-40s to early 50s, and the son's in the 20s or early 30s.
The son, she said, was recently discharged from the military. She had not spoken to either one at any length.
"Not really, it's just a neighbor," she said. "You say, 'Hi.' I try to keep to myself. Especially in this neighborhood."
She said her boyfriend and her 10-year-old son were home at the time of the shooting. They heard the shot and saw the deputy on the ground.
"It was great here when we moved in here six years ago. But now it's getting worse and worse every single day," Seals said.
At his news conference, Christianson spoke as sirens wailed in the background. Traffic in northwest Modesto was disrupted for much of the day because so many streets were blocked by police cars and armored vehicles.
"Despite the harsh reality of our economic climate and the drastic budget cuts and staffing cuts I've taken, there's no excuse for this," Christianson said. "I am overwhelmingly frustrated with the fact that we don't have sufficient resources to protect the community."
Jittery neighbors and others stood outside the perimeter throughout the day and into the early evening. When hard rain fell early in the afternoon, many of the people headed off although others milled around for hours.
Levi Middleton and Jennifer Diaz, who live across the street from where the shooting happened, said they heard multiple gunshots in rapid succession, as if the rounds were fired from a semiautomatic weapon.
Middleton and Diaz said officers first told them to stay inside, and they later were told to evacuate.
An evacuation center was set up at the nearby Prescott Evangelical Free Church.
Bee staff writers Ken Carlson, Sue Nowicki, Marijke Rowland and Rosalio Ahumada, and Director of Interactive Media Dan Day contributed to this report.
Bee staff writer Erin Tracy can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2366.
___ (c)2012 The Modesto Bee (Modesto, Calif.) Visit The Modesto Bee (Modesto,
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