Two men were found dead in what appears to be a murder-suicide at a Watsonville home on Wednesday night after a nearly seven-hour police standoff. Police are not yet naming the men, pending notification of their family, but said they are related and lived at a house in the first block of Lawrence Street. Around 5:40 p.m. on Wednesday, police received a call from a relative reporting a domestic disturbance at the house, but the caller did not indicate that any weapons were involved, Deputy Police Chief Rudy Escalante said.
Officers arrived at the home about five minutes later and a man answered the door. An officer talked to him through a screen door for a while and then convinced him to come outside, Escalante said. The officer noticed that the man had a hand injury and asked him whether anybody else was inside the house and if they needed medical attention. The man told the officer there was someone inside and that he had been shot, and then ran back inside.
The officer followed him and saw a man lying on the floor in the living room with a “significant amount of blood” around his head, Escalante said. He said the man appeared to be dead. The man who answered the door then ran into another room. When the officer tried to go after him, the man shut a door in the officer’s face, Escalante said. He said the man started firing shots through the closed door and that the officer returned fire and started “running for his life.
“Other officers, including emergency personnel and Santa Cruz County sheriff’s deputies, responded and surrounded the house, Escalante said. For nearly six hours, the officers tried to establish contact with the suspect, but there was no response. An attempt to use audio and video devices to find him was unsuccessful. Then, around 12:30 a.m., a sheriff’s SWAT team entered the house and found two people, including the suspect, dead on the living room floor.
Each had suffered a single gunshot wound to the head, Escalante said. Also in the living room, officers recovered ammunition and three weapons – a rifle, which appears to have been used by the suspect against the officer, a shotgun, and a pistol. Escalante said investigators are still reviewing evidence in the case. He said it was lucky that no one else in the neighborhood was harmed.
Police used a reverse 911 system to notify the residents about the situation and order them to shelter in place. Dozens of officers responded to the incident, including the California Highway Patrol, Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office, and various fire and medical personnel.
“On behalf of the Watsonville Police Department, we are saddened by this kind of tragic event,” Escalante said. “It’s an extremely unfortunate incident,” he said. “Our hearts go out to the family. We’re grateful our officers were not injured or killed. The activities in this event could have easily dictated that.”
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