A man believed to be firing a gun from his back yard gave police the impression he was shooting at them, authorities said, triggering a response from the sheriff's SWAT Team and other law enforcement agencies Saturday.
The Los Banos Police Department responded to San Luis Street and Park Warren Drive at 10:42 p.m. for a report of shots fired. Police said the caller reported hearing shots coming from the field north of San Luis and Place Road.
Three officers arrived and began checking a small structure in the field north of San Luis, police said. As they were completing their search, they heard several shots coming from the back yard of a residence several hundred yards to the east in the 300 block of Park Warren Drive.
The officers saw muzzle flashes and thought someone was shooting at them, police said. The Merced County Sheriff's Department, California Highway Patrol and Merced County SWAT were called for backup.
Officer Fiafaimane Leao detained Jacob Gonzales, 27, of Merced after he was spotted walking away from the Park Warren residence.
SWAT officers subsequently used a loudspeaker to order any remaining occupants out of the home, and a standoff ensued. After a few hours, a man and woman came outside. Two small children were found sleeping in the house.
A handgun was found during a search of the residence, police said. Officers also said they discovered shell casings and live ammunition in the back yard.
Gonzales was arrested on suspicion of assault with a firearm, reckless discharge of a firearm and being a felon in possession of a firearm. Gonzales is in custody at the Los Banos Jail in lieu of $110,000 bail.
The woman ordered out of the residence by the SWAT officers, Lacinda Gonzales, 20, was arrested on suspicion of obstructing law enforcement during an investigation. She has been released and is scheduled to appear in Merced County Superior Court.
Police are uncertain why the weapon was being fired.
"We're thankful none of our officers were injured, and our detectives are still trying to figure out what the suspect's intentions were and why he was shooting," Los Banos Police Cmdr. Ray Reyna Jr. said. "We believe alcohol may have been a factor in this case, and there is no indication this was gang-related."
Los Banos Police Chief Gary Brizzee expressed gratitude to the law enforcement agencies that assisted his department during the incident.
"We are very fortunate to have such a great relationship with our allied agencies. We were in need of a hand and in within minutes the Merced County Sheriff's Department and CHP were in Los Banos; they are a tremendous help and we greatly appreciate their assistance," Brizzee said.