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Standoff with Sonoma stabbing suspect ends peacefully


A nearly seven-hour standoff in a residential neighborhood in Sonoma ended peacefully early Saturday morning when a 55-year-old man suspected of stabbing his father, was taken into custody by the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office on suspicion of attempted murder.

Hector “Gustavo” Vasquez reportedly stabbed his father in the torso just before 6 p.m. Friday and fled into his house on the 1200 block of Mission Drive where he barricaded himself and refused to communicate with law enforcement on the scene.

Members of the Sheriff’s Office Special Operations Unit, including SWAT team members, hostage negotiators and other support staff, surrounded the home in the Temelec subdivision near Arnold Drive in an attempt to negotiate with Vasquez.

Despite employing a variety of tactics including sending in a robot equipped with video cameras and a micro-phone, police dogs, making announcements via loudspeaker and the phone and even, at one point in the evening, cutting off communications, they were unable to get Vasquez to talk to them.

Finally, at about 12:48 a.m., the neighborhood of mostly retirement homes was jolted by a short bang and the sound of breaking glass as SWAT team members broke a bedroom window. That was followed shortly by dogs – presumably police dogs – barking and yelping.

Moments later, said Sheriff’s Lt. Tim Duke, Vasquez was found in the home and taken into custody.

“The situation was resolved in a peaceful manner,” he said. “The suspect was arrested without incident.”

The victim, who was not identified by name, was stabbed multiple times in the torso and was in stable condition at Napa's Queen of the Valley Medical Center, a hospital official said Saturday morning.

Mission Drive was closed to traffic between Arnold Drive and Temelec Circle and remained closed until the situation was resolved. Some residents in surrounding homes were asked to either leave, but many were able to stay in their houses.

Sheriff’s Office SWAT personnel with their guns drawn were positioned around the home where the suspect was holed up. Their attempts to communicate with him were both by loudspeaker and by phone.

Attempts began at 8 p.m., when a deputy made the first call over the loudspeaker for Vasquez to come out with his hands up, calling him at first by his first name Hector. Later, they began referring to him by “Gustavo” and tried to contact members of his family to see if they could get him to respond. Authorities also sent a robot, equipped with a microphone and video cameras, toward the house.

In their attempts to communicate with the suspect over a loudspeaker, they told the man: “Your dad is OK. Please come out so we can talk to you.”

Shortly after 10 p.m., the residential street went quiet and a sheriff’s official said the negotiators had gone into “radio silence,” a tactic used by authorities to get a suspect to talk to them.

Sheriff’s deputies were called to the house just before 6 p.m. after reports that a man had been stabbed. Emergency medical personnel who arrived at the scene tended to a man with multiple knife wounds to his stomach and torso. After the man was taken by ambulance to the hospital, deputies called for the SWAT team when it was apparent Vasquez would not come out of the house.

Duke said Vasquez was alone in the house during the standoff. Neighbors said the house has been rented out to a family for the past six months.

In the first moments after the members of the SWAT team arrived, deputies with guns drawn searched the area. Several officers with police dogs also went door-to-door and others were stationed around the home, with some officers on rooftops with rifles drawn.

The California Highway Patrol and Sonoma police officers assisted at the scene.

You can reach Staff Writer Elizabeth M. Cosin at elizabeth.cosin@pressdemocrat.com or 521-5276.