This teenage gang member ‘just really wanted to go to jail,’ Atwater police say

A 17-year-old Orange County gang member asked to go to jail early Thursday. But he hadn’t committed a crime, so nobody would arrest him, according to Atwater police.

So, Chief Samuel Joseph said, the teenager “sucker punched” an officer in the face.

That did the trick.

The oddness started just before 2 a.m. when the teen entered the Atwater Police Department lobby claiming he was on probation and that he’d cut off his electronic ankle monitor.

“He also tried to lie about his age. He wanted to go to the main jail; not to juvenile hall,” Joseph told the Sun-Star.

But a quick records check turned up the teen’s true age — 17 — and also revealed no record of him being wanted for any crimes or probation violations.

“They tried to locate any information that he was (wanted) anywhere, but there was no record,” Joseph said. “When he was told he was free to leave, he appeared disappointed.”

Around the same time, Atwater Police Officer Jason DaSilva also walked into the police lobby.

“The juvenile asked DaSilva, in a profane manner, if he was Dasilva,” Joseph said. “When he was told yes he sucker punched Officer DaSilva in the face.”

The officer was not injured, the chief confirmed.

DaSilva works on many gang-related investigations, Joseph said, and is well-known among Atwater gang members.

“They all know who he is, so it’s not strange that (the teen) knew DaSilva’s name,” Joseph said.

He was booked into the Merced County Juvenile Justice Correctional Complex on suspicion of assaulting an officer.

It remains unclear exactly why the teenager wanted to go to jail or why he specifically wanted to be in the jail for adults.

Police initially suspected he may have wanted to smuggle “something” into the main jail in Merced County, but a medical examination came up empty.

“So we don’t know why, yet,” Joseph said, “but we can say that he made every effort to go to jail.”

Rob Parsons: 209-385-2482