A late night shooting that sent one man to the hospital resulted in a 12-hour police standoff with SWAT officers at an East H Street residence on Saturday, Sept. 27.
Oakdale Police were summoned to the 600 block of East F Street at 12:16 a.m. regarding reports of shots fired near the 7-11 convenience store at that location. When officers arrived they discovered a 24-year-old Oakdale man had been shot in the leg.
The victim was treated at Doctors Medical Center in Modesto and later released.
Witnesses at the crime scene reported that a male subject in a white SUV exchanged words with a group of other males on the street when the man in the SUV brandished a handgun. The man then shot at the group before fleeing the scene.
According to police, Officer Andy Stever found a white Honda CRV driving in the area right after the call was broadcast. When Officer Stever attempted to catch up to the vehicle, it evaded him and was briefly lost. Stever located the Honda shortly after when it was pulling into a duplex driveway in the 800 block of East H Street, just blocks from the crime scene. The male driver then exited the Honda and ran into the residence.
“On duty units attempted to establish a perimeter around the house to contain the suspect,” said Oakdale Police Chief Lester Jenkins, who added that a Stanislaus County Sheriff’s SWAT team was called out due to the risk level of the case.
During the standoff, police called out a woman from the residence and later, two small children also came out from the house.
“When we were able to get enough information,” said Detective Bill Carter, “we were able to get a search warrant for the residence.”
Around 10:30 a.m., police evacuated surrounding residences and SWAT made entry into the residence, including using teargas.
“The suspect was not here,” said Chief Jenkins after SWAT units cleared the house and crawl spaces. “It appears he was able to get out before the perimeter was set up.”
Inside the house, officers found several guns, including two assault rifles.
Police identified the suspect as Jorge Villegas, 25, of Oakdale.
Jenkins said there may have been the chance that both groups exchanged gunfire during the incident on East F Street. Some witnesses at the scene told police the other group was taunting the male and may also have shot back.
Investigators said that when the Honda CRV was found, it had a large caliber bullet hole in its right rear fender.
Investigators said they will have more of an idea of what occurred when they review surveillance tapes of surrounding businesses.
Chief Jenkins fell short of stating the incident was gang-related, but did say those contacted who were involved had prior police contacts for being both victims and suspects of gang-related activity and also lived in an area where Norteno gang activity was prevalent.
Irene Leon, girlfriend of Villegas, said she and Villegas just moved to the Oakdale duplex from Modesto a few months ago. She said she did not know what was going on when police used a public address system to call her out from the residence after midnight.
“I heard the announcement and they called me out, making me walk backwards,” Leon said at the scene. “I told them I didn’t know if he had come home or not.”
She added that when police removed her from the house, her two children, ages two and three, were still asleep inside. She said the children wandered out of the house on their own several hours later.
“They (police) wouldn’t let me go in and get my kids,” Leon said. “They were left all alone, without supervision.”
During the standoff, Leon’s cousin, Joel Rocha also arrived on scene.
Rocha, dressed in bail agent raid gear, including a tactical vest, duty belt, radio, and associated equipment, said he was there to assist Leon with the children. It was unclear why he arrived dressed similar to SWAT and police officers, but he was kept out of the police perimeter until after SWAT was complete with their search.
Police opened up the neighborhood streets at 12:30 p.m., Saturday afternoon.
Investigators worked throughout the day recovering and processing evidence from the home and Honda CRV.
Police state Villegas is to be considered armed and dangerous and not to be approached. Anyone with information about this case or Villegas’ whereabouts is encouraged to contact Oakdale Police at (209) 847-2231.