ATWATER — An Atwater man threatening his wife with a gun Wednesday morning forced police to surround his house and lock down a nearby elementary school.
Pedro Lopez, 34, forced his 29-year-old wife to the ground, put a gun in her face and threatened to kill her, Atwater police Sgt. Dick Wisdom said.
Their three children – a 9-year-old girl, a 3-year-old girl and an infant boy –were home at the time, police said.
“We were told he’d been up for three straight days on methamphetamine,” Wisdom said.
The woman escaped with the children from their home in the 3300 block of Nautical Court when Lopez used the restroom, Lt. Samuel Joseph said.
The woman called police around 6:16 a.m.
Officers placed nearby Peggy Heller Elementary School on lockdown as a precaution. The lockdown was lifted shortly after 7 a.m. and no children were ever in danger, a school official confirmed.
“We were concerned we had all these children starting to show up from school and I felt the need to do something to ensure everybody’s safety,” Wisdom said.
Parents reported getting an automated call telling them not to bring their children to school, or if they had already dropped them off, to come and get them. Atwater Elementary School District officials did not respond to requests for comment.
Wisdom and Cpl. Dayton Snyder negotiated with Lopez, but after about an hour he stopped responding. They entered the home using the wife’s key, Joseph said.
“She (the wife) told us he was very dangerous,” Wisdom said.
Lopez was smoking a cigarette in the bathroom when police entered the home and came into the living room as police moved inside, Wisdom said.
He refused to cooperate. Wisdom and Officer Dennis Frank restrained Lopez but no weapons were used, Joseph said.
Officers found a .22-caliber rifle in the bathroom and a .357 Magnum revolver stuffed under a mattress in a bedroom, Wisdom said.
Joseph thanked all 11 officers for their work at the scene.
“These officers did a fantastic job preventing a potentially dangerous situation,” Joseph said.
Lopez was taken into custody and booked at Merced County jail on suspicion of assault with a firearm, child endangerment, false imprisonment and making criminal threats.
Staff writer Rob Parsons can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 385-2482.