A tense standoff in a Hollister neighborhood ended peacefully Thursday, even after a suspect brandished a handgun at sheriff’s deputies and fired a round as he was chased through the residential area, according to the San Benito County Sheriff’s Office.
After negotiating with the suspect, Rafael Rojas, for more than 20 minutes, with the help of Rojas’ family members, deputies and Hollister police arrested him without anyone suffering significant injuries, according to authorities.
The incident started about 11:30am July 5, when a sheriff’s deputy attempted to stop a vehicle for a traffic violation in the area of East Fourth Street in Hollister, according to a sheriff’s press release. The deputy activated his emergency lights, but the driver, later identified as Rojas, did not stop.
The deputy pursued the vehicle through Hollister at slow to moderate speeds, according to authorities. In the area of Paseo Drive, just west of Veterans Memorial Park, Rojas fired a single gunshot from his vehicle.
Authorities are still investigating the direction of the shot and what, if anything, it struck. Nobody was hit or injured by the gunshot.
In the area of the 1300 block of Marne Drive, Rojas stopped the car and ran on foot into the neighborhood. By this point, Hollister Police officers had arrived to assist deputies with the pursuit and arrest of Rojas.
As the first deputy pursued Rojas on foot, he noticed the suspect held a handgun in his right hand, according to authorities. The deputy and officers ordered Rojas to drop the gun and surrender, but he refused. Rojas allegedly challenged the officers to shoot him.
Rojas then kicked open the gate to the yard of what police later determined was a home of a relative of the suspect’s, according to the sheriff’s office. An armed standoff began in the backyard of the residence. Sheriff’s deputies and police began evacuating residents from nearby homes. The police department sent out an advisory via social media during the standoff, urging people to avoid the area.
Officers engaged Rojas in verbal negotiations to disarm and give himself up for about 20 to 25 minutes, according to police.
At one point during the standoff, an officer fired a “less than lethal” beanbag round at Rojas, according to Hollister Police Sgt. Don Pershall. Rojas was hit by the beanbag projectile, but did not immediately drop his weapon or surrender.
Ultimately, officers and deputies used their cell phones to establish communication between Rojas and a family member, according to the sheriff’s office. The family member was able help officers convince Rojas to drop the gun and surrender.
Rojas was arrested without injury, though he was treated at the hospital for the beanbag projectile and shortly released, according to authorities.
The deputy’s and officers’ “patience and professionalism were paramount to the safe conclusion of this case,” reads the sheriff’s press release.
Rojas was booked at the county jail on suspicion of assault on a peace officer, felony evasion and being a felon in possession of a firearm, according to authorities. His firearm, a 9mm Ruger pistol, was recovered. His vehicle was also recovered, with the spent shell casing from the bullet he fired inside.
Anyone with information about this case can call the San Benito County Sheriff’s Office on the anonymous tip line: (831) 636-4084.