The homeless man who was found dead in a San Rafael hotel room during a standoff in August shot himself in the head, the Marin County coroner’s office said today. Peter James Thomas, 38, committed suicide between 8 p.m. Aug. 17 and 12:53 p.m. on August 18, coroner’s Sgt. Keith Boyd said. Thomas, who had no known address, also had cocaine and heroin in his system, but the drugs did not contribute to his death, Boyd said.
San Rafael police went to the hotel at 1775 Francisco Blvd. East around 8:30 a.m. Aug. 17 because they received word that Thomas, who was being sought in connection with a stabbing at a supermarket on Aug. 14, was staying there. When police knocked on his door, Thomas then barricaded himself in the room and told police he was armed and his girlfriend was with him, San Rafael police spokeswoman Margo Rohrbacher said. Thomas allegedly fired a shot toward Interstate Highway 580 from his window around 10:45 a.m., and the California Highway Patrol shut down the freeway between U.S. Highway 101 and Sir Francis Drake Boulevard at about 11:10 a.m.
The Richmond-San Rafael Bridge was also initially closed until it was reopened about an hour later. The standoff contributed to a huge traffic jam on the bridge and on San Rafael streets. Rohrbacher said Thomas stopped talking to police late that night. He had been in communication with them throughout the day and then nothing, she said. The drop in communication prompted police to use cameras to see what was going on inside the room. They drilled holes through the walls of the room and inserted cameras, and saw Thomas lying motionless on the ground, Rohrbacher said.
Officers forced entry into the room and found Thomas dead inside, she said. He was the only one in the room, Boyd said. The Marin County Sheriff’s Office had a $70,000 warrant for Thomas’ arrest on burglary and weapons charges at the time of the incident and he had been convicted of robbery and vehicle theft in San Francisco, authorities said.
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