Hostages are now safe with relatives, police say

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Two of the three children involved in a hostage situation are escorted by a family member to another location just after 9 a.m. today in the 500 block of West French Place. The children’s father was not arrested on scene, but SAPD Chief William McManus said officers would be back to serve him with a warrant at a later date. Photo by Cynthia M. Herrera

Two of the three children involved in a hostage situation are escorted by a family member to another location just after 9 a.m. today in the 500 block of West French Place. The children’s father was not arrested on scene, but SAPD Chief William McManus said officers would be back to serve him with a warrant at a later date. Photo by Cynthia M. Herrera

Domestic dispute leads to standoff that blocks traffic on San Pedro.

By Ty-Eshia Johnson and Richard Montemayor

sac-ranger@alamo.edu

A standoff today that closed a main San Antonio thoroughfare near this college to morning rush-hour traffic was settled without injuries.

San Antonio Police Department blocks traffic from entering the 1600 block of San Pedro at Ashby during a hostage situation Oct. 6 in the 500 block of West French. Police Chief William McManus said SAPD blocked the streets at 7 a.m.; the hostage situation was diffused at 9:15 a.m., SAPD patrol Officer Ben Esquivel said. Parking Lots 1 and 2 reopened at 10:21 a.m. Photo by Kyle R. Cotton

San Antonio Police Department blocks traffic from entering the 1600 block of San Pedro at Ashby during a hostage situation Oct. 6 in the 500 block of West French. Police Chief William McManus said SAPD blocked the streets at 7 a.m.; the hostage situation was diffused at 9:15 a.m., SAPD patrol Officer Ben Esquivel said. Parking Lots 1 and 2 reopened at 10:21 a.m. Photo by Kyle R. Cotton

The standoff occurred after a domestic disturbance — during which gunshots were fired, a neighbor said — at a home with a man, woman and three children, police said.

“We are now pulling out and clearing the scene and will deal with charges at a later date. There is no danger right now presented to the neighborhood by that individual,” Police Chief William McManus said in a news conference at the conclusion of the standoff shortly after 10 a.m. today.

He said rather than having a confrontation trying to bring the man out, police would return later with a warrant.

Police were called out at 7 a.m. to the 500 block of West French Place for a domestic disturbance that turned into a standoff with hostages.

“There was a domestic disturbance last night that started around 7 p.m.,” McManus said.

An unidentified man left the house and came back at about 3 a.m., McManus said.

Another domestic disturbance then occurred, McManus said, and someone was allegedly assaulted.

Medical personnel dressed in ballistic helmets and vests wait for orders during a hostage situation that started around 7 a.m. Oct. 6 on San Pedro between Ashby and French Place. The situation ended by 9:15 a.m. Photo by Danielle Kelly

Medical personnel dressed in ballistic helmets and vests wait for orders during a hostage situation that started around 7 a.m. Oct. 6 on San Pedro between Ashby and French Place. The situation ended by 9:15 a.m. Photo by Danielle Kelly

“The woman at that point left the house, leaving three children inside,” McManus said.

Police arrived on the scene at 7 a.m. while negotiators were talking by phone to the husband, McManus said.

“When we arrived, the children were still there,” McManus said. “Negotiators were talking to the husband on the phone. He invited us in to remove the children. He wasn’t threatening to harm the children, but he was armed, and we were afraid to go in because of that.”

All the children were taken safely from the house, leaving the husband inside alone, McManus said. The mother and children are now with relatives, McManus said.

A next-door neighbor was up most of the night visiting with guests when she heard gunshots.

“I haven’t slept … I have not slept,” said Chela Thomas.

Thomas was with her brother and a friend when they heard gunshots. She said they didn’t think much about it at the time.

“We were just here in the living room. … I was sitting right here and we were having some drinks and we were just talking about life and s—, you know, and all of a sudden, bam,” she said.

She said it was still dark when they heard the gunshots as they crawled into another room.

Thomas also recorded several clips of the scene on her iPhone and took photos. Among the photos was one with the gun used at the scene, but the poor quality made it unidentifiable.

She explained that her brother told her to stay down because they were afraid gunshots would come through the window.

“We looked out the window and there were already cops here, but earlier before that … before the gunshots, there were cops here already, so I guess there was some kind of disturbance next door,” she said.

Moses Montejano, Thomas’s brother, said the gun looked silver with a black handle and may have held six bullets. “It was a nice-looking gun,” he said.

Montejano said he rarely visits this side of town but decided last night to stop by.

“It’s weird because I rarely come over here,” he said. “Last night, I decided to just come over here, and we stayed up all night. We hadn’t even slept.”

He said Thomas told him to move his vehicle and then he went back inside.

Montejano said around that time they heard gunshots.

“It startled me actually, it did,” he said.

He said they heard the woman next door scream and police officers tell her to put something down.

“After the gunshot, I mean it was like within seconds, there was all of these cop cars and they had the shield to protect themselves,” she said.

Thomas said police had their guns pointed at the home as she looked on and was told to go back inside.

She looked out of her window for movement inside the neighbor’s home but couldn’t see anything.

“Soon after that, I saw the little boy next door, and it broke my heart because he ran across the street in his pajamas and it was still dark time,” she said.

She said the cops grabbed the boy as he ran across the street and that’s when she realized how serious the situation was.

Thomas said she and the woman rarely spoke but had exchanged telephone numbers in the past in case of emergency.

“She called me and she says very calmly … you need to not go outside, and I said I’m not going to go outside,” Thomas said.

When Thomas asked where the gunshots came from, the woman told her that she fired the shots, Thomas said.

“I didn’t ask her why,” Thomas said, but added that the woman said she fired the gunshots to warn the police.

Thomas asked her if she was OK and the woman said she was.

“I said who is that little boy that ran across the street?” Thomas said.

The woman said the little boy was her son.

“That’s what, like, really hit home, you know. Like why isn’t she running outside? I didn’t know what was going on … I still don’t know what’s going on,” Thomas said.

“I’m so proud of that little boy,” she said. “He just ran toward the police officers and the police officers just grabbed him.”

She said about an hour later a woman and child ran out.

“I haven’t slept because we’ve been really afraid that there was going to be some kind of gunshots going back and forth,” Thomas said.

Though Thomas doesn’t know the family personally or why everything happened, she said they seem like a really good family.

“You can tell they’re good parents because they’re always with their children,” she said.

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