Los Banos tattoo artist arrested after officers hear shot fired in home, police say

Pete Gaona Jr., 36, of Los Banos
Pete Gaona Jr., 36, of Los Banos Courtesy Merced County Sheriff's Office

A Los Banos tattoo shop owner was arrested early Christmas morning after he reportedly fired a gun in a home as officers stood in the doorway, the Police Department reported.

Los Banos officers Surina Gonzales and Marcelino Cortez were dispatched to a disturbance at a home, a “family fight,” in the 100 block of Santa Barbara Street at around 12:45 a.m. Tuesday, Cmdr. Jason Hedden said.

As officers stood in the threshold of the doorway talking to family members, they heard what sounded like a loud shot being fired in the home, Hedden said, noting the officers drew their weapons.

The officers then saw 36-year-old Los Banos resident Pete Andre Gaona Jr. approach down the hallway with a gun in his hand, Hedden said, before a woman, identified as 31-year-old Martha Maylander, took the gun from Gaona and placed it somewhere in the residence.

Gaona, the owner of Nasty Tattoos and Piercings, was taken into custody. Police served a search warrant in the home which revealed a bullet hole in the ceiling and a .9mm compact handgun hidden in the residence, Hedden said.

“The officers used great restraint, obviously recalling their training and experience,” Hedden said.”They were able to take him into custody without having to shoot him.”

Maylander admitted to police she attempted to hide the firearm but the officers decided against arresting her. However, the Police Department was planning to send a criminal complaint seeking charges against Maylander to the Merced County District Attorney’s Office.

Gaona was arrested on suspicion of willful negligent discharge of a firearm, being a felon in possession of a firearm, child endangerment and other weapons allegations, Hedden said. Police also learned Gaona was wanted on an out-of-county warrant. Gaona was being held without bail Wednesday at the Los Banos Police Department Jail.

Gaona faced gun charges in Kern County about 10 years ago, court records indicate. But he pleaded to misdemeanor petty theft and those charges were dismissed. In 2015, Gaona was charged with infractions related to rabbit hunting, according to court records.