UPDATED: Hostage situation a false alarm

Capitol Highway Patrol officers turn around an SUV who drove

A 1 hour and 40 minute standoff, the closure of several streets
and the lockdown of two schools netted no arrests Tuesday in Gilroy
when law enforcement officers responded to a false report of an
armed burglary and hostage situation.
A 1 hour and 40 minute standoff, the closure of several streets and the lockdown of two schools netted no arrests Tuesday in Gilroy when law enforcement officers responded to a false report of an armed burglary and hostage situation.

Members of the Gilroy Police Department, California Highway Patrol and Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department were called to the 7700 block of Santa Barbara Drive after police received a report at around 2:40 p.m. that multiple armed suspects were holed up inside a residence there, according to GPD Sgt. Chad Gallacinao.

He said nearby residents were evacuated or asked to stay inside with their doors locked. El Roble Elementary School and Brownell Middle School were on lockdown during the incident, according to police, though the lockdown was later lifted.

The BearCat – a large armored tactical vehicle housed at the GPD and shared by South County law enforcement agencies – was deployed around 3:30 p.m. and parked in front of a house at the corner of Third Street and Santa Barbara Drive.

For 10 minutes, an officer inside the vehicle spouted orders using the BearCat’s speaker system.

“This is the Gilroy Police Department,” he bellowed. “Come out of the house with your hands up.”

CHP officers with rifles flanked GPD officers who were in front of the home. Other CHP officers assisted with traffic control, as parts of Third Street, Santa Barbara Drive, San Miguel Street and Santa Paula Drive were closed.

About 25 spectators, some with binoculars, were at the corner of San Miguel and Santa Barbara just a block away from the incident.

The standoff ended and streets were reopened at 4:20 p.m. after GPD officers discovered the house was not occupied. Officer Amanda Stanford said the GPD made contact with the homeowners of the residence and “were able to determine they were not the victims of a residential burglary or a hostage situation and were unaffiliated with the telephone call GPD received.”

Stanford said it’s not clear who made the original call to police because it came into the GPD’s non-emergency line, which sometimes doesn’t display caller I.D.

“Information regarding the origin of the call was not immediately available,” Stanford said. “We are continuing to investigate who made the call and where it came from.”

The homeowners, Rosie and Eugene Losongco, said they were at work and had no idea who called the police. Rosie said she was shocked to hear from a friend about 3:45 p.m. that police had surrounded the home for a hostage situation since no one should have been at the house.

“If someone was going to pull a prank, they could have just TP’d my house,” Rosie laughed.

She said it was obvious no one was in the house as nothing was turned over, stolen or damaged.

“At least they didn’t take the remote,” Eugene said.

The incident created confusion for residents living in the area.

One man was seen walking briskly down Santa Barbara Drive away from the home in question carrying his young daughter.

“They’re saying there’s people with guns over there,” the man said. “I’m carrying her because if we have to run I know I can run faster than my daughter.”

A woman who didn’t want to give her name but said she lived several blocks from the home said the street was usually quiet, though she said there had been several recent burglaries.

“I love this neighborhood,” she said. “It’s not usually that rowdy.”

Pepper Aazh, who lives near the incident, said a “nice, average family” lived in the home and was not usually around during the day.

When officers arrived, they told her, “There was a problem with your neighbors,” and asked her to stay in her home, Aazh said.

She said she told them the family likely wasn’t home.

“Stuff like this doesn’t happen in Gilroy,” Aazh said. “It’s really quiet. Our only real problem here is people speeding on Third Street.”

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