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Easter Sunday standoff in Petaluma ends without injuries or arrest

A seven-hour standoff on Easter Sunday in Petaluma ended without injuries or any arrest, the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office said Tuesday.

A hostage negotiations team that included a psychologist was unable to convince a man suspected of armed robbery who barricaded himself in a shed on Casa Grande Road to leave after hours of effort, said Misti Wood, a spokeswoman for the Sheriff’s Office.

After contemplating the risks of a few different strategies, law enforcement officials decided to de-escalate the scene by leaving, rather than forcing their way into the shed.

“De-escalation can be very effective and it’s complex because it relies on more than one person ,” Wood said. “Sometimes there’s this firm conclusion, and that wasn’t the case here.”

The Sheriff’s Office now has a warrant for the arrest of Omar Saldana-Campos, the 24-year-old Petaluma man suspected of trying to steal a bike and threatening the victim if they reported it to law enforcement.

The incident was first reported at 9:20 a.m. Sunday, when a man was reported to have stolen the bike from its owner and then shot out the windows of a residence, afterward remaining on the property on Casa Grande Road between Old Adobe Road and Hidden Valley Drive. Several households were living on the property in different homes, including trailers, the Sheriff’s Office said.

When law enforcement arrived, the man barricaded himself in a shed on the property. Deputies used a loudspeaker to call everyone else on the property out of their residences. A total of eight people resided there, not counting the suspect.

Deputies were unable to reach Saldana-Campos through his cellphone. They called in the hostage negotiations team, as well as Petaluma fire and ambulance resources. Petaluma police and the Sheriff’s Office issued Nixle alerts warning people to avoid the area.

The hostage negotiations team responds to situations involving suicidal subjects, barricaded suspects and hostage-takers. Their role “is to build a rapport with the involved person and bring the situation to a peaceful resolution,” the Sheriff’s Office said in a news release.

But Saldana-Campos did not comply, Wood said, and in the hours that followed, deputies began interviewing witnesses to piece together more of what had happened to prompt the call to authorities.

Witnesses told deputies that Saldana-Campos had stashed the stolen bike inside his home on the property. One person told deputies that Saldana-Campos had then emerged from his room with a firearm that appeared to be a BB or pellet gun. He fired two shots, though no one was injured.

During the work by the hostage negotiation team, Petaluma police and California Highway Patrol closed Casa Grande Road from Old Adobe to either Garfield Drive or Ely Boulevard South, Wood said. At least one drone, operated by a sheriff’s deputy, provided aerial surveillance.

Because deputies didn’t know whether Saldana-Campos still had the weapon used earlier, Wood said, they had to weigh the safest course of action in response to his refusal to surrender.

In this case, she said, the team decided on “full complete disengagement by ending the call.”

Before leaving, deputies spoke with the other residents of the property about their plan to leave. All but two people said they would stay on the property even with the man still barricaded in the shed, Wood said.

The two people who declined to stay that evening temporarily found another place to go, at the deputies’ recommendation, Wood said.

Deputies gave the public the “all clear” signal through Nixle at 4:29 p.m. Sunday, more than seven hours after the first call.

Law enforcement have had previous interactions with Saldana-Campos, and so they also felt confident that they would be able to locate him and arrest him another time, Wood said.

“We know who he is,” she said. “We were evaluating the risk to everybody on-site and that was why we decided to walk away.”

The arrest warrant issued for Saldana-Campos is for allegations including felony robbery and felony threatening of witnesses.

You can reach Staff Writer Kaylee Tornay at 707-521-5250 or kaylee.tornay@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @ka_tornay.

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