Updated: Police shoot at, use dog to arrest man who stole police vehicle

Kenneth Michael Aguero, 31

Police fired shots at and then used a canine officer to subdue a
man who stole a police cruiser, tried to steal police guns and
drove at an officer, police said.
Police fired shots at and then used a canine officer to subdue a man who stole a police cruiser, tried to steal police guns and drove at an officer, police said.

During a tumultuous encounter in a southeast Gilroy towing yard Sunday night, police were unable to stop 31-year-old Kenneth Michael Aguero from resisting arrest despite the use of pepper spray, an electronic stun gun, hits from a police baton and even gunfire, police said. Only after Aguero stole a police cruiser, tried to steal the guns inside, drove at police and then ended up across the street in the police cruiser were police able to arrest him thanks to a police dog, police said.

Some time before 4:45 p.m. Sunday, Aguero showed up at Marx Towing, 5757 Obata Way, to retrieve his 2003 Chevrolet Impala, which had been towed Wednesday because it was blocking Trailblazer Way in northwest Gilroy, police and sources said.

The towing company was closed Sunday, but a few Marx Towing employees happened to be there, said owner Frank La Corte, who heard second-hand reports of the incident from his staff. The suspect then bullied his way into the office and into the tow yard, where the gate was open, La Corte said. Aguero became angry when Marx Towing employees said he could not get his vehicle without “proper authorization or paperwork,” police said.

At 4:43 p.m., the employees called police because they were worried about how incensed Aguero was, police said.

The suspect threatened to drive his Impala right through the gate, but the car’s battery was dead, La Corte said.

“The guy wouldn’t take no for an answer,” La Corte said.

When police showed up several minutes later, the suspect was inside a secured area of the business without permission, police said.

Police tried to get Aguero to stop and then tried to arrest him, but Aguero would not comply, police said. Police then tried to subdue him using – in order – pepper spray, an electronic stun gun and blows from a police baton, police said. All these measures had no effect, police said.

Then, Aguero ran to a nearby police vehicle and tried to take out the guns that were locked inside with a key, Gilroy police Sgt. Jim Gillio said.

While police attempted to persuade Aguero to get out of the vehicle, he jammed the vehicle into reverse and sped backwards, almost hitting an officer with the vehicle, police said.

A couple of residents wrote on the Gilroy Dispatch comment board that they had overheard a person on a police radio they believed to be an officer say that he had been shot and that he thought he was going to die. Gillio stressed that no officers had been shot or injured. He did say that Aguero had used a police radio, but he would not say what Aguero had said over the radio, saying the matter is still under investigation.

Two officers fired multiple times at Aguero as he tried to get away in the police vehicle, police said. Police did not hit Aguero, but managed to stop the vehicle and it came to rest in a grassy area across the street from Marx Towing, police said. Police did not specify what caused the vehicle to stop.

Police again tried to get Aguero out of the vehicle, but he did not follow orders and instead tried again to take the locked guns from the police vehicle, police said. Police continued to try to negotiate with Aguero, but eventually released a police dog on Aguero. Between the dog and more officers, Aguero was arrested, police said.

The Gilroy man was booked for assault with a deadly weapon, theft of an emergency vehicle and assault on a police dog, police said. Gillio said it was unclear whether Aguero had been using drugs at the time of the incident.

Aguero was taken to a local, unspecified hospital to be treated for “moderate” puncture wounds from the police dog and from baton strikes, police said. The suspect was treated and released before 11 p.m., Gilroy police Capt. Kurt Svardal said.

Police had the crime scene barricaded and taped off Sunday evening, and several police vehicles were parked with their lights flashing. Police moved back and forth under a giant set of glaring lights as they investigated the scene. Police conducted their investigation near the tow yard until 3 a.m. Monday, La Corte said.

La Corte said he was not allowed to access his business while the investigation was ongoing.

“I’m just glad that none of my staff was hurt,” La Corte said.

Reached at her Trailblazer Way home on Monday, a woman who said she was Aguero’s mother said that her son lived off and on at her residence. However, she would not disclose any details about the circumstances surrounding the towed vehicle.

Trailblazer Way branches off of Longmeadow Drive in Gilroy’s northwest quadrant with newer homes that were built within the past 15 years. A neighbor who would not give his name said he believed that Aguero had problems with police in the past, saying that he noticed the name of one of the Agueros in the Dispatch police blotter.

Yet another neighbor who also would not give his name said he had heard that one of the people at the home where Aguero was staying had been in jail. Still, he said the neighborhood has few problems.

“I’ve never seen any problems,” he said. “It’s a quiet neighborhood.”

Gillio said that Aguero had a criminal history, but he would not go into details. Santa Clara County Courthouse records indicate that Aguero was sentenced to county jail after pleading no contest in May 2005 to felony counts of assault with a deadly weapon and hit and run. He was living in San Jose at the time.

The Dispatch police blotter indicated that Duane Aguero, 36, was arrested 1:45 a.m. Dec. 28 on Trailblazer Way for possession of drug paraphernalia and parole hold.

Both officers who fired their guns Sunday are on temporary administrative leave, which is routine when officer fire their weapons, Gillio said. Gillio did not know when they will return to work, as that depends on the needs of both the officers and the department.

The last time an officer had to fire a gun was Sept. 16, when two alleged Norteño gang members sped toward an officer on the 100 block of Ronan Avenue. Although the officer managed to dodge the vehicle, Officer Randy Bentson fired his gun to defend his colleague. In February 2008, Officer Eustaquio “Paco” Rodriguez shot and killed Gurmit Singh, 33, on Highway 152, after Singh attacked him. Singh died several hours later from a gunshot wound to the abdomen. Before these incidents, the last time an officer had to fire a gun was in 2000, Gillio said.

“Within the city of Gilroy, it’s really infrequent,” he said.

Likewise, La Corte said tow company customers occasionally can be aggressive, but he has never had to deal with an incident like the one that occurred Sunday evening.

As a result, he said he is planning to take extra precautionary security measures.

“It just makes me a little leery of people coming in and getting their cars,” he said.

Still, he said he was happy to hear that police captured Aguero.

“He got exactly what he deserved,” La Corte said.

Anyone with information about the incident can call police at 846-0350.

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