Police in standoff ends peacefully

A four-and-half-hour standoff between an armed man threatening suicide and Clovis police ended peacefully shortly after 7 p.m. Tuesday on the front lawn of a home in the 300 block of North Lea Street.

CNJ staff photo: Kevin Baird

Clovis police surrounded a house in the 300 block of North Lea Street Tuesday as other tactical team officers talked an armed Cesar Rodriguez out of committing suicide during a four and a half hour standoff.

Clovis Police Steve Sanders said the standoff ended when the suspect friends identified as Cesar Rodriguez gave himself up.

Sanders said the hours of drama began shortly after a couple from Portales spotted someone driving their stolen vehicle in Clovis. Sanders said the car was stolen from the couple in Portales a few days earlier.

Sanders said officers attempted to stop the vehicle about 2:30 p.m. near First and Prince streets. The driver sped to a nearby Allsup's parking lot at Prince and Grand. Sanders said two women and a man bailed out of the car and officers chased the man on foot. It was not clear who was driving the vehicle.

Homeowner Clayton Ortiz, 34, said he and a friend, Jose Mendoza, were working on their motorcycle in the front yard of 316 N. Lea when Rodriguez dashed at them from around a corner with a pistol in his hand shouting, "I'm a meth head. I'm going to kill myself."

Police officers were chasing Rodriguez, Ortiz said.

"He dropped down on his knees in the front yard and put the gun to his head," Ortiz said. "He kept saying, 'I'm a meth head … I'm going to kill myself.'"

Ortiz said Rodriguez also was holding a cell phone and shouted at officers that he wanted to make a call. Officers shot Rodriguez twice with a Taser, "but it didn't seem to hurt him," Ortiz said.

Sanders said after the non-lethal attempt to apprehend Rodriguez by using the Taser failed, officers retreated and called for backup.

Heavily-armed police surrounded the house after blocking off access in about a three-block area.

Sanders said Rodriguez spent the entire time during the standoff in the front yard while SWAT and tactical teams attempted to talk him into to giving up. Sanders said early in the standoff, the man put the barrel of the pistol in his mouth and threatened to pull the trigger.

"We use a method we call Time, Talk and Tactics," Sanders said, explaining the decision to wait out Rodriguez. "These guys (police SWAT and tactical teams) know their stuff. I'm very pleased, very proud with how they handled it."

A woman who identified herself as Rodriguez' girlfriend, but would only give her name as Rachel, said he was released fromprison April 25. Sanders confirmed that Rodriguez was recently released from prison.

Sanders also confirmed Rodriguez was allowed to make a call on his cell phone during the standoff to a friend, Elida Garrow of Clovis.

Garrow said during the standoff that Rodriguez wanted her to say he was mistreated in the Curry County jail in 2005 and "he just doesn't want to go back to jail."

"He wants help," Garrow said. "He is drug-addicted and he wants help with his problem. He's afraid if he goes back to jail, he will just get mistreated again and he won't get any help with his drug problem."

Rodriguez was led with his hands cuffed behind his back and a streak of blood down his right arm to an EMS unit parked behind the Allsup's. Garrow and Rodriguez sobbed as they hugged next to the EMS unit.

"I'm real pleased it ended without anyone getting hurt, said Sanders. "These guys handled it the way they've trained to do. I'm very, very pleased."

Sanders said Rodriguez would likely be booked into the Curry County Adult Detention Center after being checked by medical personnel.

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