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11-hour Calif. gang standoff ends peacefully

By Louis Galvan
The Fresno Bee

FRESNO, Calif. — A police standoff at an east-central Fresno apartment complex ended after more than 11 hours Saturday when two robbery suspects emerged and surrendered to SWAT team members.

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Maximo Acosta and Carlos Gonzales, both 29 and both on parole, gave up peacefully after one of them telephoned officers and said they were ready to come out, Lt. Herman Silva said. They are known Fresno Bulldog gang members, he said.

The surrender ended a standoff that prompted police to shut down part of McKinley Avenue as dozens of SWAT team members converged at the scene.

For hours, police had tried without success to establish contact with the two men by telephone and by using loudspeakers. Through a window, officers could see that one of the men had a shotgun and the other had a handgun, Silva said.

When the men finally came out, officers asked why they had ignored earlier attempts to establish contact. The men said they had been sleeping, Silva said.

"I don't know how they couldn't hear us," Silva said. "We made enough noise to keep anybody awake."

Throughout most of the standoff, police said they were unsure whether anybody else was in the apartment with the men.

When the two gave themselves up, police discovered that two women and a child also had been inside, Silva said.

One of the women was identified as a resident of the apartment, while the other was identified as a neighbor. Silva said the women were detained for questioning.

"Right now, we don't know why they didn't come out," he said. "Were they threatened or just scared, or what?"

The standoff began about 3 a.m. when officers were sent to a disturbance call at the complex at 4725 E. McKinley Ave. just west of Chestnut Avenue.

When officers arrived, they met with two men who reported being robbed while attending a small party at one of the apartments. The men told police that the alleged robbers -- one armed with a shotgun and the other with a handgun -- ran across an apartment complex courtyard and into another apartment.

Silva said officers tried to make contact with the people at the second apartment but failed to get any response.

A perimeter was set up around the apartment while investigators tried to find out who lived there.

Silva said officers learned that a woman lived alone in the apartment that the robbers had entered.

After being unable to get the suspects to come out, officers evacuated several adjacent units, and a section of McKinley in a busy residential and industrial area between Sierra Vista and Chestnut avenues was shut down as police supervisors gathered to discuss the next move.

At one point, Silva said, a relative of one of the suspects was allowed to make a recording pleading for the suspects to surrender.

The recording, however, also failed to get a response.

About 10 a.m., a decision was made to call in SWAT officers. Team members started arriving about 11 a.m., and by noon some of them started taking positions around the apartment complex.

Another group of SWAT members arrived about an hour later, and by about 2 p.m., about 40 SWAT members were scattered throughout the complex.

About 15 minutes later, the officers got the word that the suspects wanted to surrender.

"My guess is they saw us coming and finally decided to come out," Silva said.

The two were arrested on suspicion of residential robbery, being ex-felons in possession of firearms and parole violation.

Gonzales also was booked on a no-bail felony warrant charging him with failure to keep in touch with his parole agent.

Both men had been released on parole about a year ago and have a long history of violent crimes, Silva said.

Copyright 2008 The Fresno Bee

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