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Police say man held 2-year-old son hostage

Only minutes before the SWAT team was due to arrive on the scene Saturday night, a man who allegedly beat his girlfriend and then held their 2-year-old child hostage in their apartment surrendered to officers.

Lt. Roger McIntyre of the Merced Police Department said Able Ortiz Martinez, 27, of Merced, believed to have been armed with a handgun, barricaded himself in his apartment in the 400 block of West 13th Street at 7:50 p.m. A next-door neighbor helped in Martinez' peaceful surrender.

McIntyre said the victim told police Martinez was armed with a handgun and had made threats that he would kill her, the children and himself if police were notified. Martinez also told the victim that he would shoot any police officer who tried to take him into custody.

Martinez remained in Merced County Jail on Sunday night in lieu of $150,000 bail on charges of spousal abuse, making criminal threats and child endangerment.

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Officers Nathan McKinnon, Ramon Ruiz, Jeffery Gonzalez, Moses Nelson and Nicholas Dejong set a perimeter around the apartment to contain Martinez until it could be determined if they were all right. Dispatchers made numerous attempts to contact Martinez by telephone, but the phone had been disconnected.

Because Martinez had threatened violence against family members and police, and had barricaded himself inside the apartment, the SWAT team was called to the scene. Meanwhile, officers continued trying to contact Martinez by telephone to bring the situation to a non-violent end.

Before the SWAT team's arrival, a next-door neighbor came outside and told officers that Martinez was inside her residence and wanted to surrender to police. Martinez then came out of the residence and was taken into custody without further incident.

Officers were able to recover the 2-year-old child and returned him to the victim. Officers attempted to interview Martinez but he refused to make any comments, McIntyre said.

Once Martinez was arrested, the victim allowed officers to search the residence for the handgun, police said. Gonzalez located a loaded .22-caliber Sentinel revolver hidden in a chest of drawers in the child's bedroom and a box of ammunition of the same caliber, according to police.

Associate Editor Doane Yawger can be reached at (209) 385-2485 or dyawger@mercedsun-star.com.

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