KINGS COUNTY, Calif. (KGPE) – Authorities in Kings County killed a man who was armed following a pursuit and an hours-long standoff on Monday, according to the Kings County Sheriff’s office.
Kings County Assistant Sheriff Robert Thayer said the suspect failed to yield after CHP attempted to stop him for speeding near Paso Robles. After he failed to yield, CHP initiated the pursuit.
Thayer said the suspect’s vehicle got stuck in southwestern Kings County, in the area of Highway 33 and Devils Den Road.
“My understanding is that CHP had an immediate confrontation with him, realized that the driver was wearing body armor and had a firearm in his possession,” Thayer said.
When that happened, CHP backed away from the area and requested the assistance of the Kings County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team.
Thayer said the SWAT team, as well as their crisis resolution team, arrived on the scene at around 9:00 p.m. on Sunday.
“We were able to get one of our phones to the suspect and initiated a phone conversation for many hours, nine, ten, 11 hours is what my understanding is,” Thayer said.
He said at about 5:30 a.m. on Monday, they put a request to the Hanford regional team.
“It’s a SWAT team made up of members of the local law enforcement agencies, not sheriff related, and they sent their team out along with their crisis resolution team and we turned it over to them about 5:30 this morning,” he said.
He said the regional team began their set of negotiations. But at around 7 a.m., the suspect started shooting at the direction of the regional team, he said.
Members of the regional team returned gunfire and killed the suspect, he said.
Thayer said to his understanding, the suspect fired at least one round that hit one of the regional SWAT team vehicles. He said he wasn’t sure how many shots were fired by authorities.
“We do what we call a round count. We go back into the magazines that they carry, that’s in the firearm, we count what they have left in addition to what capacity they keep those magazines at,” he said.
Thayer said it’s very early on in the investigation and they’re working with multiple agencies, including CHP, to gather statements and video.
“My understanding is that there’s gonna be some members that had body cams from some agencies, I haven’t seen any of that footage, I don’t know if they were on, if they were pointed in the right direction,” he said.
Thayer said during the incident, family members of the suspect were calling in saying he was related to them. The identity of the suspect hasn’t been released, and Thayer said they haven’t yet spoken with family members.
“It’s just sad that this is how this resulted in,” Thayer said. “On the other side its a family who has a son that’s loved and I don’t know what course of life it took for that to happen.”
“Significant public safety hazard too. A bulletproof vest and a gun, we don’t know, we haven’t backgrounded him, to know if there was a crime spree that he took part in, or he was gonna take part in, we don’t know, but you don’t run into it very often where you see somebody with body armor and a gun running from the cops,” Thayer added.