Emergency authorities surrounded a home on the 600 block of Churchill Road after a man suffering a mental health episode allegedly shot his father. Photo: Chris Mora

Police and sheriff’s deputies on Monday arrested a shooting suspect after a tense six-hour standoff on Churchill Road that could have ended in tragedy, according to authorities.

About 5:45pm Sept. 7, San Benito County Sheriff’s deputies received a call from a male resident on the 600 block of Churchill Road. The man told emergency dispatchers that his son was suffering from mental illness and had shot the older man four times, according to Sheriff’s Capt. Eric Taylor.

The victim was hiding on the property when deputies and other emergency responders—including Hollister Police and California Highway Patrol officers—started to arrive. The first arriving officers determined the 24-year-old son, later identified as Adolfo Villegas, Jr., was still inside the residence, armed with a gun, Taylor said.

Officers and deputies set up a perimeter and found the injured father hiding in the bushes outside the home, Taylor said. Officers “extracted” the victim, who was suffering from gunshot wounds to his face. Authorities later found out the weapon that Villegas had allegedly armed himself and shot his father with was a pellet gun that resembles a higher-caliber semiautomatic handgun.  

Authorities with the San Benito County Sheriff’s Office said Villegas was in possession of the pellet gun pictured above when officers surrounded his home during a tense standoff Sept. 7.

The officers brought the suspect’s injured father to a safe spot to meet with an ambulance, Taylor said. The man was airlifted to a trauma center in Salinas. He has since been released from the hospital.

With the victim safely removed from the property, authorities were then able to “slow everything down” in their efforts to detain Villegas, Taylor said. More law enforcement officers—including the Monterey County SWAT team, negotiators and mental health professionals—arrived to surround the house.

After several hours, the SWAT team sent a robot into the home with a camera, Taylor said. The suspect was “agitated” and appeared to still have a handgun in his possession.

The SWAT team also deployed gas into the home, forcing the suspect out of the residence, Taylor said. When he exited the home, Villegas ran toward officers with the weapon in his hand. SWAT team officers fired “less-lethal” rounds from a beanbag gun, some of which struck Villegas.

The suspect dropped the gun, and continued to try to evade deputies. He was eventually detained just after midnight, after an officer fired a Taser at him, Taylor said.

Villegas, who was treated for injuries after his arrest, was booked at San Benito County Jail on suspicion of attempted murder. Taylor noted that authorities have also connected Villegas to mental and behavioral health resources while he is in custody and awaiting court proceedings.

“We are more concerned right now with his mental health than with the criminal charges,” Taylor said.

Taylor credited abundant local resources available at the time, plus the assistance from Monterey County SWAT, with arresting Villegas without major incident. The sheriff’s office, Taylor noted, was changing shifts when they received the initial call and thus was able to send double their usual number of deputies—three instead of six—to the Churchill Road incident.

“Had we not had the resources available to us with Monterey County SWAT team, I think this easily would have been an officer-involved shooting,” Taylor said. He added that the SWAT team “probably saved (Villegas’) life last night by being slow, methodical, patient and concerned with his mental health.”

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Michael Moore is an award-winning journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor for the Morgan Hill Times, Hollister Free Lance and Gilroy Dispatch since 2008. During that time, he has covered crime, breaking news, local government, education, entertainment and more.


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