6-hour standoff ends in capture - Gilroy Dispatch: News

6-hour standoff ends in capture

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827 Weburn Avenue Gilroy CA

Posted: Wednesday, December 14, 2011 5:30 pm

A six-hour stalemate turned a Gilroy neighborhood into a scene of blaring megaphones and flashing police lights Wednesday night, as officers used a SWAT team, bomb squad robot and hostage negotiators to coax out an armed, wanted parolee holed up in the attic belonging to a family he barely knew.

As officers from the Gilroy and Morgan Hill police departments readied to lob canisters of tear gas into the single-story home on the 800 block of Welburn Avenue shortly after 10 p.m., 39-year-old Anthony “Torpedo” Villalobos – wanted for more than two years for multiple felonies – walked through the front door with his hands up as an officer’s voice bellowed from a speaker system, “Keep coming, keep coming.”

It was a peaceful conclusion to a tense standoff that could have ended much worse, both for Villalobos and roughly two-dozen officers who surrounded the home but never entered it, police said.

“We have to do very safe things. If he shoots one of our officers, that's the absolute worst,” GPD Capt. Kurt Svardal said.

Villalobos, a transient who has lived in Gilroy, Morgan Hill, Hollister and Watsonville, had been on the run following a no-bail warrant for a parole violation, as well as probation violations stemming from resisting arrest, being a felon in possession of a firearm and assault and battery, police said.

Police would not comment as to whether he was a known gang member, though a tattoo above his right eye reads “Gilroy.” Some Nortenos often display “408”, “Gilroy” or garlic bulb tattoos showing they are from the area, according to a GPD gang history included in court documents.

Villalobos did not harm the family inside, including two children police believed were no more than 3 years old. The family exited the home several hours before Villalobos surrendered.

After Villalobos was detained around 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, police found a loaded semi-automatic handgun inside the house, where they believe Villalobos attempted to stash the weapon before surrendering. The gun is registered to a person who has been dead for several years, though police believe Villalobos stole the weapon from a home in unincorporated Gilroy earlier this year.

“That was our big concern,” Svardal said about confirming Villalobos was armed. “That's why we took the action that we did.”

Police don’t believe the homeowners knew about the gun, nor do they believe the family was aware Villalobos was a wanted criminal. They do “loosely know him,” and the father was briefly detained for questioning but was released, GPD Sgt. Joseph Deras said.

Traffic was blocked off entirely on the 800 block of Welburn Avenue, and about 20 neighbors watched the incident unfold from across the street. That number, however, dwindled to just five as the standoff rolled into its sixth hour. Several people who passed by asked, “Is it Torpedo?”

One man, who didn’t give his name, was stunned, calling Villalobos “a nice guy.” He added, however, “it’s good no one else is in there with him.”

Once officers had the home surrounded by about 4:30 p.m., a GPD arrest team rolled to the driveway in the BearCat armored vehicle and attempted to draw Villalobos out by bellowing instructions through the vehicle’s public-address speakers.

While police dogs barked, an officer used a megaphone asking Villalobos to surrender. "This is the best way to do this!" and "We're not going until you come out!" were some of the demands heard at the scene.

Around 7:45 p.m. a Santa Clara County Sheriff's Department bomb squad crew moved into Welburn Avenue, where it deployed a 4-foot-tall robot that traveled inside the home through an open front door to look for Villalobos. As the robot scoured the home, officers viewed the video feed from the camera-carrying robot on a screen from inside a bomb squad van. Police said they didn’t believe Villalobos had explosives, but simply wanted to use the Sheriff’s equipment to locate him. It was the preferred alternative to sending in officers, Svardal said, because it was safer, and officers were able to speak to Villalobos through the robot.

“You can't hurt an inanimate object. It can break. You can replace parts,” he said. “It takes them (the suspect) a while to come to the realization that they're going to be captured. That technology helped convince him, that, ‘I should just give up.’”

Deras added that police had to be cautious in approaching Villalobos because it wasn’t the first time they found him to be armed. Police also learned, “from a variety of sources,” that Villalobos may have been on “methamphetamine binge” before the standoff, Deras said.

“The last two occasions that we're personally familiar with him, he's been armed. That right there is a reason (to be careful),” Deras said. “He's a convicted felon in the past. He's fought police in the past.”

Deras said, “He's been around a long time. I'll just say the Gilroy Police Department is quite familiar with him.”

When police approached Villalobos around 3:45 p.m., he darted into the home and soon tried to make an escape out the back door. But officers were waiting behind the home’s backyard and Villalobos retreated into the residence, Deras said.

Police wouldn’t comment on the origin of his nickname, nor his facial tattoos, which includes “Gilroy” inked above his right eye, and “I’m N motion” above his left.

About 30 minutes after Villalobos fled into the home, police told employees at One World Preschool, housed in a nearby Masonic temple, they and their 15 young students needed to evacuate.

“This has never happened to us,” said Melissa Alvarez, who’s owned the preschool for about 10 years.

Within an hour, parents of all children at the school arrived to take their children home, Alvarez said.

“Everybody was safe, everything went well,” she said.

Only the house next door to where Villalobos was hiding was also evacuated – when officers prepared to deploy tear gas, which went unused.


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  • Higherpotential posted at 8:51 pm on Wed, Dec 28, 2011.

    Higherpotential Posts: 36

    Did he get that tat of GILROY on his face at the Garlic Festival? I want one.. What happens when they let him out and he moves to Milpitas?

  • Hrdone95020 posted at 7:01 pm on Wed, Dec 28, 2011.

    Hrdone95020 Posts: 1

    Now to me it sounds like madmax has a sore spot towards this guy. Now if you know this guy then ya he has always been introuble but not by the choices of his mother. And ya there is good in him though it was'nt shown unless you knew him. Now honestly it could have turned out worst, thankfully our finest took actions the way they were tought. And thats why they do what they do so maybe you all (mm) should be grAteful his mother was willing to help in order to keep your town safe.

  • MsOpinionated posted at 1:34 pm on Wed, Dec 28, 2011.

    MsOpinionated Posts: 27

    I understand what you are saying MadMexican, he's not the kind of citizen our little town needs or wants. However, I still think they that the money we spend on these "sweeps" should be directly proportional to the rate at which crime is going down. The more we spend should mean the less we see crime. I understand this stuff takes time, but the majority of the arrests made were "violations of probation." Thats really a waste of our money, since no crime is being committed other than being in contact with a police officer. If they are going to do these type of sweeps, they should have evidence thats solid and worth all the manpower used. There are hundreds of parolees and probationers that are straightening out their lives and if one of them has a family member thats suspected of some crime, and the police come busting in their door, they will get taken to jail...and its not fair to mislead the people of this city with the head count of those arrested, implying they actually caught some criminals. how many of those just happened to be at HOME, and not even related to the crimes but just on probation or something, like the girl arrested in the first sweep? Thats misleading to people and it makes us think all that money was spent wisely.

  • madmexican posted at 9:41 am on Fri, Dec 23, 2011.

    madmexican Posts: 41

    MsOpinionated i am sure he is a fine young man. would you let a punk like that marry your daughter? OPEN YOUR EYES YOU FOOL!

  • MsOpinionated posted at 3:44 am on Tue, Dec 20, 2011.

    MsOpinionated Posts: 27

    my gosh people, why in the world are we putting this womans business out there like that? how ghetto is that? if you want to show her some support, go visit her...dont blast it online, making HER the topic and putting her in the light...and madmexican, your mother must not have raised you right either to be disrespectful like that to this guys mother. clearly you have no kids of your own to understand that once they hit a certain age, its all but impossible to control everything they do. this all sounds like he murdered someone or something. the fact that the gpd put THIS much manpower into this guy, and for what?? what felonies were so serious that we needed to go through all this to catch him? its like the "sweep" they did last week where they landed on mr howards house on welburn, and DIDNT find the "fugitive" that DIDNT even live there, or any other evidence suggesting he did, but they tore up this guys house, "tracked dog poop all over the house..." and then took his girlfriend in who was on parole. what a waste of a swat team use. they found some brass knuckles in the room of a kid renting that room at the home, and they were in that kids locked room, which is all a judge needs to drop the charges..but having nothing at all to even justify the sweep, they took the girlfriend in, who had been following all the instructions of her parole officer, and had no involvement in gangs, drugs or crime since 2006. so since this charge will be dropped on the fact that the only thing they could charge her with was brass knuckles that were in a rented locked room and this means she cannot be held for them, sounds like gpd made a big hoopla over nothing and they walked away with NOTHING. i think the gpd is really wasting our money on extravagant shows of "crime stopping" that are really not helping any of the crime at all. it was a nice show though. how about we start asking more questions about how much these operations cost us and how can they see a drop in crime because of them?

  • JustTheFacts posted at 7:29 pm on Sat, Dec 17, 2011.

    JustTheFacts Posts: 4

    What is wrong?? Where do you start? How much money has this individual cost the tax payers?? Now, once he is incarcerated how much more money will it cost those of us who get up in the AM go to work and do what we can to make this world a better place. This individual seems to have very little to offer this society.

    As far as I am concerned, lock him up and never let him out again. I feel sorry for his family and you can't blame them because at the end of the day we are responsible for our actions. By the way, the fool kept me up and if you could some how measure perfection this individual would come up a big ZERO.

  • shanezwife08 posted at 12:33 am on Sat, Dec 17, 2011.

    shanezwife08 Posts: 4

    Hey what's wrong is wrong and we all have to pay for the actions we commit in life! Nobody is perfect ! You want to play you have to pay ! Sorry it is what is....my heart goes out to the family that has to hurt cause someone they love now has to sit behind bars cause of negative decisions made! Thank God no one was physically hurt especially they family that lived in that home on Welburn!

  • GilroyVoters posted at 5:48 am on Fri, Dec 16, 2011.

    GilroyVoters Posts: 30

    Cheers to the Gilroy Police Department for continuing the sweep of our streets.

    I would hope that the city council will use some of the surplus money to fund as much of the anti gang sweeps as is necessary until the gangs realize that Gilroy is just too risky a town to be in.

    A large number of voters in Gilroy are watching to see if the council members continue this course or if they start to cave in from pressure from special interest groups.

    Council members can keep their jobs if gangs and criminals loose theirs.

  • clifton santiago posted at 9:21 pm on Thu, Dec 15, 2011.

    clifton santiago Posts: 14

    `6_ 6 ) `-. ( ).`-.__.`)
    (_Y_.)' ._ ) `._ `. ``-..-'
    _..`--'_..-_/ /--'_.' ,'
    (il).-'' (li).' ((!.-'

    they make him sound like time person of the year..LOL.

  • EvangelinesMommy12 posted at 7:04 pm on Thu, Dec 15, 2011.

    EvangelinesMommy12 Posts: 1

    theres no need for all that!!He may not be my blood but i consider him my family!And i know hes done wrong but hes a good guy.Poor anthony,he looks so sad:( Anna,Im sorry i cant even imagine how you must be feeling right now.

  • Ceci posted at 6:25 pm on Thu, Dec 15, 2011.

    Ceci Posts: 1

    The negativity is not helpful. My heart goes out to you Anna. I know how it feels. My family has also been on the bad end for the "critics" here on the dispatch website when there was a drive-by at my grandmother's home about a year ago.

  • michelle posted at 4:48 pm on Thu, Dec 15, 2011.

    michelle Posts: 1

    yes he may look like a horrible guy. but id have to say i did see good guy come out of him some times. . he helped me out at times when no one else could. ..anna this is his friend michelle, i just want you to know i was praying for you and your family last night that every thing would be fine. i honestly thought it would have turned out ugly.. i know you must be a little at ease, not having to worry about him out here on the streets anymore

  • gav_lady82 posted at 3:51 pm on Thu, Dec 15, 2011.

    gav_lady82 Posts: 1

    Anna Anthony's Mom, this all must feel like a nightmare. My prayers go out to you. Thank you for supporting the police department last night, by talking with them on the phone. Your son has probably disappointed you but, regardless of "how" he was raised, or if his father was around, two things are true. Regardless if what the upbringing situation was, you did your job and he is an adult. He made his choice to live this lifestyle. Yes, I agree our community probably doesn't need this and what a waste of tax dollars..... thank the lord nothing ended horribly and all the neighbors returned home safely. *our community shouldn't bully Anna Anthony's Mom or his family.

  • madmexican posted at 1:37 pm on Thu, Dec 15, 2011.

    madmexican Posts: 41

    Anna Anthony's Mom if you are his mom i will pray for you. i went to school with him and he has always been a trouble maker. my brother got the better of him behind the ghs football bleachers in high school and it did not good. this guy ( cannot call him a man) has never had any guidance. i dont know if you didnt raise him right or if he never had a father figure, what ever it is it is none of my business, but what i can say is gilroy is better of with him elsewhere. i hope if you have any other kids they are not like him

  • Anna Anthony's Mom posted at 12:44 pm on Thu, Dec 15, 2011.

    Anna Anthony's Mom Posts: 1

    I am not proud of any tattoos that my son has or anything he has done. But I gave birth to him and he is my
    son, last night I thought my son was going to die. I was sick then and I am sick now! And for you to make
    comments about your fair town is outrageous. If you are free of error then by all means throw the first stone
    I can't stop loving and caring about Anthony I am his mother. F.Y.I. I was on the phone with the officer doing
    everything I could to help I was not there because I don't live in your fair town. Thank you and God Bless you and your fair town.

  • Rosco_B posted at 11:02 am on Thu, Dec 15, 2011.

    Rosco_B Posts: 76

    Torpedo is heading back to the BIG HOUSE!!!

  • OldTimeGilroy posted at 10:44 am on Thu, Dec 15, 2011.

    OldTimeGilroy Posts: 169

    The tattoos on his face are a nice touch. I especially like that he advertises our fair city. But wouldn't "idiot" in a nice script have been more appropriate?

  • madmexican posted at 10:00 am on Thu, Dec 15, 2011.

    madmexican Posts: 41

    his mother must be proud of him

  • madmexican posted at 9:07 am on Thu, Dec 15, 2011.

    madmexican Posts: 41

    what a tool

  • shanezwife08 posted at 9:14 pm on Wed, Dec 14, 2011.

    shanezwife08 Posts: 4

    Please pray for the safety of me,my children,my friend Teresa and her Family this is going on right behind our house's ! Hope everyone on that block is okay ! Praying for a safe capture and surrender!

  • OldTimeGilroy posted at 6:38 pm on Wed, Dec 14, 2011.

    OldTimeGilroy Posts: 169

    My, haven't the cops been busy lately? Lock 'em up.