– A four-hour ordeal between Gilroy police and a rumored hit man
ended quietly with the arrest of Jose Ornelas at his Gilroy
workplace Tuesday afternoon for allegedly making terrorist threats
and brandishing a deadly weapon at his girlfriend and her
daughters. Police sealed off 10th Street, shut d
own businesses and called out the SWAT team and a K-9 unit in an
effort to nab Ornelas, who police believed may have been armed and
hiding out in an apartment behind Charlie’s Liqour between
Eigleberry and Church streets.
GILROY – A four-hour ordeal between Gilroy police and a rumored hit man ended quietly with the arrest of Jose Ornelas at his Gilroy workplace Tuesday afternoon for allegedly making terrorist threats and brandishing a deadly weapon at his girlfriend and her daughters. Police sealed off 10th Street, shut down businesses and called out the SWAT team and a K-9 unit in an effort to nab Ornelas, who police believed may have been armed and hiding out in an apartment behind Charlie’s Liqour between Eigleberry and Church streets.
More than a dozen armed officers clad in body armor roamed the area, some with high-powered rifles and automatic weapons, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. until police located Ornelas at his workplace, Gourmet Veg-paq, a packaging plant for organic produce on 4375 Davidson Ave. He was taken into custody there without incident and brought to the Santa Clara County jail where he awaits formal charges from the District Attorney’s office, Gilroy police said.
From 10 a.m. until after 2 p.m. Tuesday, police camped out in the 7-Eleven and Charlie’s Liquor parking lot on 10th and Eigleberry streets trying to lure Ornelas, aka Jose Arguirre, from his girlfriend’s apartment. Police are still sorting out details, but Ornelas apparently fled the apartment when police responded to a domestic disturbance call around 9:30 a.m.
“We had two calls at two different times from two different people claiming (Ornelas) and his girlfriend (Nyuzette Mares) were having some domestic problems,” Assistant Police Chief Lanny Brown said.
Police said Mares’ sister called GPD around 2 a.m. Tuesday claiming Ornelas had threatened Mares and her two daughters and had been brandishing a “machine gun.” Police searched Mares’ apartment and questioned her regarding Ornelas’ whereabouts, but said she was uncooperative and evasive.
“I have very little doubt this person (Mares) is being less than truthful,” said Sgt. Jack Sheedy, an officer who responded to the early morning call.
“This is consistent with many situations where domestic violence is present,” Capt. Debbie Moore said.
Police said the only sign of a domestic disturbance during their 2 a.m. call was a broken beer bottle in the kitchen that Mares claimed was hers.
Police received a second domestic disturbance call around 9 a.m. from the ex-husband of Mares. Police said the ex-husband was called by one of the young girls, who told her father there was a handgun in the refrigerator.
A 9-millimeter pistol was found in the apartment after Ornelas was arrested, police said.
GPD responded to the second call, but did not enter the apartment since Ornelas, also known as Jose Arguirre, was considered armed and dangerous.
Police got Mares and her two girls, ages 3 and 8, to leave the apartment around 9:30 a.m. Officers did not enter the apartment, however, until 2 p.m.
Brown said GPD had intelligence on Ornelas linking him to various felony activities, including the rumors he worked as a hit man in Mexico, and officers did not want to take any chances. Also, Mares’ claim that Ornelas was not in the apartment did not measure up with the fact he had not gone to work and that both his personal and work vehicle were on site.
“Given what we knew about this guy’s past and given (Mares’) evasiveness, we’re erring on the side of caution here,” Brown said. “This was a very classic beginning to a potentially hostile situation.”
Police spoke constantly through a bullhorn in Spanish hoping Ornelas would emerge from the apartment without incident. The stand-off ended when police got a call from Ornelas’ employer saying the suspect had arrived at work.
Squad cars immediately raced to the Davidson Avenue plant to make the arrest.
Most 10th Street onlookers appeared more frustrated than shaken by the incident. But Tuesday’s stand-off left a lasting impression with at least some neighbors.
Terri York, a resident of a nearby apartment, watched from her second-floor front balcony with curiosity, but retreated quickly back insider her apartment when two officers in helmets, fatigues and assault rifles appeared in the carport below, urging residents to go inside.
York was due at work at her job at Wal-Mart, but couldn’t leave because her car was parked directly under the second-floor back window of Apartment 2, Mares’ residence. York and her sons took turns watching the scene from the window of her apartment.
York called her niece, who was about to pick up her 10-year-old son from school. “Don’t bring Tommy home!” York said. “I have the SWAT team right outside my door!”
York said she was already considering moving from her home of six months before the incident because she didn’t like the area around the apartment.
“This is the icing on the cake,” she said.
Staff Writer Jonathan Jeisel contributed to this report.