Mass. police dog flushes out suspect

By Milton J. Valencia, Staff Writer
Telegram & Gazette

WORCESTER- Auri Garcia has seen criminal suspects cut through her yard before, jumping over fences to escape police and raising concerns for the safety of the children in the home.

This time, however, a suspect was hiding behind the door to her basement, and actually asked for her home address so he could call someone to pick him up. She gave him the address, locked the door and called police.

By then, state police dog Max had arrived, encountered the man in the basement and helped with his arrest.

The suspect, Efrain Santiago, 37, of 20 Sigel St., was charged with breaking and entering, assault and battery on a police officer, and resisting arrest. He was also arrested on outstanding warrants for distributing and trafficking cocaine.

The situation yesterday afternoon began in Mr. Santiago's home, according to police. Detective Daniel F. Sullivan had determined that Mr. Santiago was in his third-floor apartment at 20 Sigel St., and the officer went there to arrest him on the drug warrants.

Detective Sullivan confronted Mr. Santiago and attempted to arrest him, but Mr. Santiago fought back, according to Detective Sgt. Mark H. Richardson.

At one point, Mr. Santiago attempted to jump from a third-floor window, but Detective Sullivan was able to hold onto him, Sgt. Richardson said.

Someone on the second floor noticed the commotion and pulled Mr. Santiago into the apartment, fearing for the man's safety, Sgt. Richardson said. Mr. Santiago then fled in an unknown direction.

Police surrounded and secured the home, thinking he may have gone into the attic. More detectives arrived, along with patrol officers and gang unit officers, who used camera equipment to survey the attic to see if Mr. Santiago was inside and if he was armed.

By then, state police Trooper Patrick Robinson arrived with police dog Max, and prepared to search the home for Mr. Santiago.

However, witnesses told police that Mr. Santiago had fled from the home. Then, Mrs. Garcia called police to say her nephew went toward the basement in her home and saw a man behind the door asking for the address. Mrs. Garcia lives at 55 Ellsworth St., which is behind 20 Sigel St.

Trooper Robinson raced to the home with Max, jumping a chain-link fence. The trooper said he gave several warnings to let Mr. Santiago know he was there with a dog and said that if Mr. Santiago did not surrender he would enter the basement with the dog.

"I gave him a couple of words to come out, and he wouldn't come out, so the dog went in," Trooper Robinson said. Mr. Santiago surrendered when Max approached, but struggled when officers attempted to handcuff him. He was eventually subdued by Max, Trooper Robinson said.

Mrs. Garcia said the events unfolded quickly. She said she was glad to see police in the neighborhood, and glad that they arrested the man.

"I just want them to check this place more, because there's a lot of drug activity," she said. "We can't even open the door" without seeing someone fleeing police.

Copyright 2006 Worcester Telegram & Gazette, Inc.
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