FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) — The standoff outside a northeast Fresno grocery store continues Friday with no sign of the suspect police say is barricaded inside.
According to Fresno Police Chief Paco Balderrama, investigators on the scene of a standoff that has been in progress since approximately 7:00 p.m. on Thursday have still not located the suspect inside the Save Mart supermarket at First Street and Nees Avenue in northeast Fresno.
“We have utilized several tools such as K9s, drones, doing physical searches,” Chief Balderrama explained. “It’s a difficult place to search because it is a big grocery store.”
Chief Balderrama went on to say the store has many places to hide including a large roof, a back storage area and other areas that make the location a difficult place to search.
Investigators say they have found clothing, footprints and other evidence that the suspect was in the store and may have gained access to the roof area. Chief Balderrama believes the suspect is still in the store or had gained access to a neighboring store.
Deputies with the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office could be seen Friday afternoon searching neighboring businesses in the vicinity of the Save Mart supermarket. Control of the scene was transferred to the Sheriff’s Office by the Fresno Police Department overnight.
“Obviously our guys want to stay out here, they want to finish the job,” said Balderrama. “Humans can only stay without rest for so long, so we have to rest our SWAT Team, Fresno County SWAT Team is going to take over and they’re going to continue the search.”
Though the heavy law enforcement presence remains, Chief Balderrama says the area is safe.
“This is contained. This is safe,” Balderrama said. “You don’t have to worry.”
Chief Balderrama also clarified that they have no reason to believe that the unidentified suspect is armed, though he says that it is possible that he is. Balderrama’s biggest concern, he says, is allowing access to the shopping center while the suspect is inside.
Meanwhile, representatives from the Clovis Unified School District have made the decision to cancel classes at nearby Kastner Intermediate School as the heavy law enforcement activity continues.
“We recognize the disruption that this causes to our families and appreciate their understanding as we work to keep our students, staff and community safe,” said Chief Communications Officer Kelly Avants.’
Chief Balderrama apologized to the public for the inconvenience, saying that public safety must be prioritized.