DOS PALOS — A 27-year-old man wanted for an Oregon homicide was taken into custody Monday, after a standoff between the fugitive and law enforcement ended peacefully.
Leland Nicholson Jr. was taken into custody by the Merced County Sheriff's SWAT Team after the standoff, which lasted about two hours, at a Dos Palos residence in the 1600 block of Ida Street, near Mabel Avenue.
Law enforcement caught wind of Nicholson's whereabouts not long after 8 a.m. Monday, when Dos Palos police received a call that he'd been trying to force his way into a residence, but was turned away by the occupant, according to Dos Palos Police Chief Barry Mann.
Nicholson walked down Ida Street and saw police patrol cars. At that moment, he ran to the home of an acquaintance and forced his way inside. He tried to garner assistance from the occupants of the home, but they refused.
Seeing law enforcement outside the home, Nicholson crawled under the house.
Around 10 a.m. Monday, the Merced County SWAT Team set up a perimeter at the request of the Dos Palos Police Department, according to Sheriff Mark Pazin. "The family was able to get out of there safely," Pazin said. "What makes this even more heinous is there was small children in the house while this person was trying to seek refuge."
Nicholson hid under the house for about two hours before surrendering to the SWAT Team around 12 p.m. Pazin estimated he had been in Dos Palos for about a week, and had contacted family members to hide out.
On Sunday, Nicholson's half-sister Rebecca Paz, 36, was taken into custody after Dos Palos police confirmed that Nicholson received food and shelter from her while he was on the run, according to police. "Dos Palos PD (Police Department) kept him secure here but kept him moving around," Pazin said. "And, finally, the family connected the dots (and) started calling local law enforcement."
Mann was relieved Monday's incident was resolved peacefully, particularly because Nicholson had allegedly made some statements to witnesses that he didn't want to return to prison, and would not be taken alive by law enforcement.
Mann said he was also thankful for the assistance provided by the sheriff's department and California Highway Patrol. "Without their assistance this could have been a different outcome. Their assistance was priceless," Mann said.
Klamath County, Ore. law enforcement has been looking for Nicholson in connection with the killing of Terry Entriken, 28. Police say Nicholson also tried to kill Vanessa Alexander, 36. Entriken was shot in the back of the head, according to the Herald and News newspaper in Klamath Falls, Ore. Police have yet to determine a motive.
Dos Palos Police Chief Barry Mann said all of the schools in Dos Palos were on lockdown throughout the incident as a precautionary measure. Bernard Marks Elementary School is one block south of the residence.
Deputy Delray Shelton, the sheriff's spokesman, said no one was injured in relation to the standoff and Nicholson was not armed. "We were able to create a dialogue with the individual (and) in return he surrendered without incident," Shelton said. Shelton said Nicholson was transported to the Merced County Jail and will be extradited to Klamath Falls.
Enterprise reporter Thaddeus Miller can be reached at (209) 388-6562 or by email at email@example.com.