Explosive device used in E.C. standoff

May 16, 2001|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

A tense quiet filled the 1000 block of Heil Avenue in El Centro just before 11 p.m. Tuesday.

Patrol cars silently blocked traffic from 12th Street to Eighth Street and from Holt Avenue to Hamilton Avenue.

Fire trucks and ambulances were parked in the distance with their lights off, but medical crews remained in their vehicles ready to move in should they be needed.

Then, moments before 11 p.m., a sudden explosion ripped through the silence as El Centro police used a diversionary explosive device to bring a nearly six-hour standoff with a reportedly distraught woman to a safe close.

The explosion, set off near the front door of the home, allowed police to move into the home and take the woman into custody without further incident.


The woman, whose name police declined to release, was not injured.

The standoff started about 5:40 p.m. when police were called by friends of the woman concerned about her emotional state. They reported she was despondent, according to El Centro police Lt. Paul Longoria.

Police responded to the scene but did not enter the home. Officers had information that there were weapons in the house. Longoria said weapons later were found there, but he declined to elaborate on the types of weapons.

Officers attempted to talk the woman out of the home but she did not respond.

By 6:30 p.m. the El Centro police emergency response team was called in as police continued attempts to negotiate with the woman.

"She wasn't coming out," Longoria said. "She wasn't communicating with negotiators. She wasn't communicating with some family members."

Longoria added, "With all the information we had, the decision was made to make entry and take her into custody."

Family members standing about a block from the scene huddled as the device exploded, rattling the neighborhood.

Moments after the explosion, El Centro police Sgt. Jerrold Novak walked up to the family.

"She's OK," he told the family. "They've got her detained."

Shortly after 11 p.m., police took the woman from the home. Longoria said she was going to be held in protective custody.

Police did ask media members to not videotape the woman when they brought her outside the home, stating doing so could inflame the situation. Police opted to take the woman out through the back of the home.

Novak did tell the media that the woman had committed no crime.

Longoria said police were pleased to see the standoff end without injuries to the woman or those responding to the incident.

Staff Writer Darren Simon can be reached at 337-4082.

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