SWAT standoff in Escondido neighborhood ends; 2 people in custody

Several streets near W. 7th Ave. were closed

ESCONDIDO, Calif. - Two gang members suspected of taking part in a number of prior violent crimes hid out inside a North County home Wednesday when police tried to contact them, prompting a several-hour SWAT standoff that ended with their arrests.

Detectives tracked down Diana Ponce, 24, and 30-year-old Hector Robles in the 500 block of West Seventh Avenue in Escondido about 12:30 p.m., Lt. Mike Loarie said.

The suspects, who were being sought for offenses involving guns and other weapons, failed to respond when officers repeatedly tried to contact them via telephone and a bullhorn, leading police eventually to summon a special weapons and tactics squad. The military-style team arrived about 2 p.m. and took up positions around the house.

Other officers, meanwhile, closed stretches of several nearby streets and evacuated several neighboring homes as safety measures.

In the late afternoon, officers discharged tear gas into the residence, to no immediate effect. A short time later, the SWAT personnel sent in "flash-bang" concussion grenades, then forced entry and began going through the home room-by-room.

The officers soon found Ponce and Robles hiding in a closet-type storage area. The suspects, the only occupants of the house, surrendered without further incident at about 4:30 p.m., Loarie said. No injuries were reported.

The pair were expected to be booked into county jail on suspicion of resisting or obstructing peace officers and, in connection with previous alleged crimes, burglary, robbery, home invasion and assault with a deadly weapon.

The lieutenant declined to disclose what connection, if any, Ponce and Robles have with the residence where they holed up Wednesday afternoon.


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