UPDATE: Police identify man arrested in SWAT raid
by Jonathan Partridge | Patterson Irrigator
Apr 07, 2011 | 10348 views | 14 14 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Stanislaus County S.W.A.T. team members showed up in full force Tuesday morning at a Washburn Street home to serve an arrest warrant.--photo by Elias Funez/Patterson Irrigator
view slideshow (8 images)
NOTE: Due to a typographical error that was only caught after press time, the Thursday, April 7 edition of the Irrigator will contain contradictory information about the location of Tuesday's arrest. The arrest occurred at Washburn Street and Weber Avenue. The shooting took place on March 23 on East Las Palmas Avenue. The Irrigator regrets the error.

The Stanislaus County SWAT team swarmed an east Patterson home Tuesday morning, April 5, serving two warrants in relation to a March 23 shooting and arresting a local man.

Johnny Tovar, 22, was arrested at his house at Washburn Street and Weber Avenue on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon shortly before 8 a.m. Tuesday, according to Detective David Hickman of Patterson Police Services and witnesses.

The Special Weapons and Tactics team surrounded the house for more than an hour, smashing a window and pointing a gun inside at one point and using an explosive sound device, police and witnesses said. Police told several residents to stay indoors while the operation was under way, giving some neighbors an early-morning scare.

“I (told people), ‘There are a whole bunch of G.I. Joes behind our house,’” said Weber Avenue resident Janie Quiroba, who lives directly around the corner from the raided home.

Quiroba recounted how SWAT officers crawled through her backyard and knocked over a few fence posts to reach her neighbor’s yard. One officer climbed a tree near her fence, she said.

Several people in the area also said they heard a loud explosion, which Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Capt. Tim Beck attributed to a “flash-bang,” a nonlethal grenade that is used to confuse a person inside a building before an arrest.

In addition to arresting Tovar, team members escorted a woman and two girls safely out of the home, said Beck, who heads up the operations division of the sheriff’s department, including SWAT.

The arrest is related to a March 23 shooting in which three pedestrians flagged down a car on the 100 block of East Las Palmas Avenue near a Valero service station and then shot at the people inside the car, according to police. Both the passenger and the driver escaped unscathed. The suspects in that case were thought to be possible gang members, according to police reports.

Detectives were able to identify both the shooter and a person accompanying him following an investigation, said Sgt. John Walker of Patterson Police Services. He did not know what role Tovar might have played, and detectives could not be reached for comment because they were investigating another shooting on Wednesday.

A neighbor across the street from the Tovar home, who did not wish to give his name, said he respected local police but thought the SWAT team’s actions Tuesday were excessive.

In addition to breaking a window in a 10-year-old girl’s room, the unit broke a glass coffee table and a clear glass vase inside the house, he said.

“It’s terrible,” he said. “I feel really bad for the mother, who is a hardworking woman. People who are suspected of murder are not even treated like this.”

The Tovar family could not be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon.

Beck defended the SWAT team’s actions, saying the group’s job was to make sure that search warrants were executed and that everyone left the house safely, including the people the team was seeking, he said.

“It’s easier to pay for a broken window than to deal with a fallen deputy,” Beck said.

The county’s risk management staff determines whether to cover the costs of damage caused by officers, such as broken windows, he said.

Beck said he did not know how often the SWAT group is used in Patterson, but he said it is sent into action sporadically throughout the county, sometimes not for several weeks and sometimes several times in a month, he said. The sheriff’s department goes through a “threat matrix” to determine whether to call in the team, asking questions such as whether a warrant is being issued for gang violence and whether the suspect is known to use guns or has associates who have been arrested for gun possession, Beck said.

Quiroba welcomed the police presence this week. She said she had heard gunshots fired near the corner house a few weeks ago, and someone had stolen marijuana plants about a year ago from the same address.

A nice woman lives in the house, Quiroba said, but she added that she does not know the others who stay there.

After the marijuana theft, a young woman from the house accused the Quirobas of stealing the plants, threatening to shoot someone with a firearm if it happened again, said Rosemarie Samarripa, Quiroba’s niece. Several families in the area are well connected and warn each other when police are around, she said.

“This is a very drug-infested neighborhood,” she added.

Though Quiroba was happy to see the police intervention this week, she also indicated that Tuesday’s morning raid was a frightening experience she will not soon forget.

“Oh my God, I was, like, shaking,” she said.

• Contact Jonathan Partridge at 892-6187 or jonathan@pattersonirrigator.com.

Comments-icon Post a Comment
April 21, 2011
Chabacan79-if you have never worked law enforcement or served in the military going into dwellings (homes if you didn't know)looking for bad guys with limited intel (if any), then you should not make judgement on how the Sheriffs Departments SWAT teams or Department as a whole. You don't know what it takes to do the job or know what it is like. So, think again Mr. Quaterback! It is easy to press your opinion from the sideline until you are actually on the field playing. Why don't you do a ride-a-long and try to put yourself in their shoes? or better yet, why don't you apply for a job in law enforcement and do it!
April 21, 2011
Chabacan79...you really don't understand the criminal justice system. After a warrant is served and the person is taken into custody, it is out of control of the arresting agency (sheriffs department). the judge and the courts decide if the person stays in-custody after the arrest...YOU ARE CLUELESS SMART GUY! YES! you are Monday Night Quarterbacking. So they didn't find any weapons. How would you know until you serve the warrant? You go in hard and take no chances. Bad guys hide stuff. YOU ARE CLUELESS. In law enforcement, you never know what you are getting into! The results after does not determine what you are going into before...DUH! So, if you walked up to your house and the front door is broken open, do you know who or what is inside? Is the person armed with a gun? You don't go in assuming...just like the SWAT teams. They are human beings with families that they love to go home to. So, they don't take chances!
April 12, 2011
Do the Right Thing...I checked the Sheriff Department's In Custody Report and this guy isn't listed which tells me he is already out! If the Sheriff Department is going to disrupt a community with such fire power to bring down a bad guy shouldn't he still be in jail? I could think of cheaper ways to serve a warrant. Besides did they find any weapons? Poor decision, not Monday Night Quarterbacking...
April 11, 2011
When I tell my brother about the rash of criminal activity and unsavory element...he just laughs.He is not laughing at the victims or our community but at the questionable folks.He says good thing for the criminals that they are here in Cali doing all this nonsense.

My family is from the south and there are just things you don't do

1. violate a man's family

2. violate a mans property

Mess around with any of those two things and you may find yourself looking at a some cold steel.

People in my brothers community look out for everybody.....no matter what color you are.

People are acting foolish because they know they can.Take that luxury away and problem solved!
April 11, 2011
do the right thing nailed it. Act like grown men/women and take care of your responsibilities. Start at home, then expand to neighborhood, city, ect. Keep in mind that your neighbor may not have the intestinal fortitude to do the same. When confronted by the scumbags, reverse the situation. Alot of these turds are all false bravado and bad acting. If they know you wont roll over and cower away to call 911 it will blow their minds. If you are willing to back yourself up with action even better. Carry a gun. If they give you a reason to, blow them away as a warning to the others. I dont know about the masses, but if the local government (to include law enforcement) wouldnt support a citizen defending themselves from violence I would do everything to crucify them on the internet. After all these are the people in charge of funding public safety right? Instead we get a freaking skate park? Im all for activities for the kids but 3/4 of a million seems a bit excessive. If you dont want the drama involved with carrying a firearm, a taser or pepper spray would be a good start. Stay safe.
April 11, 2011
I agree with all of you, except with "Chabacan79". Chabacan79...stop Monday night quarterbacking. You don't know anything about the intelligence on this warrant service, like what time is the suspect home and sleeping not expecting anything. These things increase the safety of law enforcement. To the Unnamed Neighbor, you don't know anything about the law enforcement. I think excessive is needed to make sure law enforcement personnel go home to their families..."It is better to be judged by 12 then carried by 6." I understand serving a warrant on someone involved in a shooting (involving guns) is a high risk thing no matter who is in the house. Besides, it was stated that the house was also burglarized a year ago of marijuana plants...sounds like a grow house or a dealer's house. Maybe the Unnamed neighbor is doing dirty himself...maybe dealing drugs in a drug infested neighborhood. Remember, you were noted across the street! We all can look to see who that is and point the finger for the Sheriff's Office. I AGREE WITH THE TEXAS JUSTICE. I also moved from the Bay Area 11 years ago for the better of my children. We love Patterson and would not go anywhere else, but it is true about these certain Bay Area Turds coming into our town and trying to run the streets like they are back in the hood. We all need to stand up to them every chance we get when they do something wrong. FRONT them right then and there...STRAIGHT UP! The Sheriff's Office is doing all they can with the resources. I know that their personnel is not up to required state standards...So many deputies per capita. They are hustling as best they can. I work in the Bay Area, and my relatives are out there. It is worse out there.

For City Councilman Smith and past Mayor Campos: See what happens when you play sensitivity and political correctness to criminals in our town. They now think they can run all over our town. All those times you bagged on the Sheriff's Office for doing their jobs. Let's hope you don't fall victim to a violent criminal who you were sensitive to. I sure hope all that money spent on failed "free handout" programs and a skate park for Smith's kid was all worth it...more worth then all the law abiding citizens of Patterson.

REMEMBER, to all you TURDS out there...When you decide to act a fool towards someone in public, you will never know who you are dealing with, it may be an off-duty cop or a vigilant patriot protecting himself, his family, or the innocent law abiding citizen of Patterson.
April 11, 2011
Based on recent conversations around town, along with the comments posted here, I am not alone in my concern that crime in our fair city seems to be getting out of control. I also strongly second the comments of those who spoke about the importance of our community standing up, strongly making our opinions about the state of public safety known with our leaders, and working together to take our streets back.

There are many, many more law-abiding citizens in Patterson than there are criminals. If we come together, if we insist that our leaders make public safety our number one priority, if we band together to form neighborhood watch groups, and if we learn the best lessons from other communities who have overcome public safety issues in their areas, we can turn this terribly disturbing trend around and reclaim the Patterson we all want.

This Saturday, Apri. 16, the City Council will be holding a Goals Setting Workshop from 9 to 1. I urge all of you to come to that meeting and make your opinions known that public safety is, and must continue to be, our number one priority. Our city council needs to hear from as many residents as possible, and they need to know with no uncertainty that we cannot stand for the status quo. We can all play a role in making our neighborhoods and our entire city the safe place we all want it to be. If you don't want to see things get any worse, now is the time to stand up Patterson!

Join me on Saturday in letting our City Council know that public safety needs to be at the top of our priority list.

Sheree Lustgarten


April 11, 2011
To baysh*t,

Your comments are so off the wall and stereotypical it make me think you are a false persona.

But just for the spirit of the situation I will engage you.

Maybe people would mind their own business if they felt safe in their community. If people keep silent then nothing will get addressed and the community will fall to quiet chaos.

Sadly Patterson is at a tipping point where things can go either way.I hope more people stand up for the community speak out and force the hand to do what's right.

I am from the Bay and am upset on how Bay people have been lumped into the a group of unsavory people.When comments are made such as yours they are highly inflammatory and unsettling.

You make me nervous by your "eff" the police attitude and stop snitchn mindset. What that tells me you have no regard for the law and peoples right to have peace and safety.

Get your mind right...

For the record I like living here it has been home to my children for over 5 yrs.Until recent times I've never felt like "gosh I need to get out of this town!" However lately that feeling has been on my mind.My feelings started long before the shooting and rash of break ins.

One of my issue has been with the teens running wild after school. What kills me more is how bewildered the store owners look when the kids are acting out. Here I am trying to shop in CVS and there is group of girls harrassing another young girl in the store.They were telling her how they were going to jump her and eff her up.

Clearly the girl was too scared to go outside by herself. I am looking at the CVS people and the cashier shrugs her shoulders.I am heated now...I ask the girl if she needs help and she said no she had a ride coming and that these girls have been bothering her for awhile. You know all it would have taken was for a store owner to tell the girls to leave and call the police.

So with all that said I hope more people stand up and speak out about the downward slide this community is in.

The City of Patterson needs to rip a few pages from East Palo Alto and Oakland's play book. If you are from EPA or Oakland you know what I'm talking about.

If you are a City Official and you don't know then you had better ask somebody real fast before more innocent people get hurt and people start using Texas justice.
April 08, 2011
8am SWAT team raid on a Tuesday morning with school children walking to the bus stop, residents headed to work and the elderly to their doctor's appointments. Really? Who's smart idea was that? If this was to serve a warrant on a bad guy or two, could the Sheriff's Department have done a little more survellance on these two and picked them up without placing an entire neighborhood in danger? Looks like grandstanding to me. Someone wanted to show off and play with their toys!
April 08, 2011
Until the council had enough members to do the bidding of the citizens, I honestly don't see the right movement towards safety that I believe we need.

You are right underwater, the monies that should have been spent on public safety went to other projects, other priorities.

I am not a fan of the contracted police services, but if we paid the necessary monies to the sheriff's department to maintain a respectable officer-to-citizen ratio, we wouldn't be where we are now.

That wasn't done, nor was it thought about as those in control paved the farmland over. Now we all pay for it daily with lives lost and property lost.

Sooner or later, the good citizens are going to snap and start taking public safety in to their own hands and get rid of bad elements. Public safety has become such a joke in Patterson, I don't think vigilantism is too far off.

April 08, 2011
What do you all mean when you say we don't have a police force? Do you mean a police force of our own? Who could do dui check points and catch drunks before they murder pregnant moms? A police force of our own who could get to know the trouble spots and trouble makers? I know the cops we have rented to serve here are doing a good and thankless job, but patterson should have considered providing its own police force when it was planning for its growth. Its stupid that they were able to finance a pool, senior center, and a 750k! skate park with money from housing developments that are now riddled with foreclosures and underwater homeowners. How could they not even consider putting that money toward more responsible things that tax payers might expect from a city? Maybe now the city council will start to take boring things like public safety a little more serious? I mean really who wants to let their kid skate at a park when there are shootings less then a 1/4 mile away?
April 08, 2011
The problem is that a large number of low-lifes did come from the bay area. It is only a small number of the bay area people are bad, but it is a significant number. It is also very true that a large number of the thugs are locals, born and raised here.

As Eagle281 mentions, and has been mentioned by quite a few contributors, the main cause of the problem is that the city management (council, planning commission and city management itself) grew the city without taking in to consideration the need for the infrastructure to support the growth. We are still with a police force for 10,000 people when we have over 20,000 people.

That fact alone is the number reason why we have the high crime rate we have. Greed and growth without proper planning.

April 08, 2011
To baysh**,

I am too tired of the Bay area people being blamed..I was born and raised in Oakland and moved here in 94, for the same reasons you did...I could afford a house. But baysh** if ou want respect in your community you need to earn it, your email is an abomination to the english language, so if you speak how you write then people will react the way they have. This generation of young people have no respect for anything...they feel they are due a handout for everything. They block streets,driveways and walk around in packs with their pants down around their knees at all hours of the day and night. Tends to be a little suspicious. No Bay area people are not to blame for Pattersons slide into an unsafe place to live, much blame goes to city council and planners who built all of these houses without thinking long term,people who got loans they knew they could never pay for and the bad economy. So if you want people to stop blaming you baysh**, act like a responsible person and work with others to change the perception of bay area people instead of blaming the police!
April 06, 2011
The neighbors comments bother me. Yes he is entitled to his "opinion", but when he knows nothing of the reason for the warrant, or how much potential peril the law enforcement officers put themselves in, comments like that seem rather ignorant. Maybe that neighbor is ok with drug dealers and violence...

I too feel bad for the mother that has her child living in a dangerous situation.

We encourage your online comments in this public forum, but please keep them respectful and constructive. This is not a forum for personal attacks, libelous statements, profanity or racist slurs. Readers may report such inappropriate comments by e-mailing the editor at news@pattersonirrigator.com.