A three-and-a-half-hour standoff with sheriff’s deputies near Hart High School ended peacefully Friday with the arrest of a 47-year-old woman on suspicion of grand theft auto.
From about 3:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., the woman remained in a stolen Chevy pickup in a driveway off of Newhall Avenue at Oak Street, refusing to come out.
Deputies with the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station tracked the stolen truck to the back of a house on Newhall Avenue.
The truck owned by an SCV resident had reportedly been stolen from downtown Los Angeles.
When the sole occupant of the vehicle refused to get out of the truck once it was stopped in a driveway, deputies began treating the incident as a barricaded suspect.
Using strategically placed patrol cars, they shut down all traffic between 14th Street and Oak Street and between Newhall Avenue and Chestnut Street. They set up a command post at Hart High School.
A Sheriff’s Department helicopter began circling the neighborhood as patrol deputies knocked on doors of homes and evacuated them, keeping all pedestrians and residents outside the perimeter.
When Tony and Chris OIea arrived home they found a deputy poised on the sidewalk in front of their home, pointing his firearm down the side of their home.
“They were going to knock on our door and evacuate,” Tony Olea said. “But, they saw we wanted to get to the house and turned us around.”
“My dogs are going crazy inside the house,” Chris Olea said.
As they turned around and joined a gathering throng of onlookers, the Oleas got a call from a relative alerting them to the standoff.
“I didn’t know what was going on until I got the phone call,” Tony Olea said.
The Oleas — who waved off the incident as something less than shocking for the neighborhood — joined their next-door neighbor on the sidewalk. She, too, was forced from her home.
The neighbor, glancing every now and then from the curb where she sat to look at gun-toting deputies standing at her house, sat with her children, a girl who appeared 6 years old and two teens, a boy and a girl.
Two hours into the standoff, the young girl ran off to play with friends. The teens sat on the curb pecking at their cellphones.
Two car lengths from where they sat waiting for permission to return home, Capt. Robert Lewis stood in the middle of the street, every now and then giving commands to deputies.
Heavily armed tactical deputies, dressed in camouflage green uniforms, moved around Lewis, taking turns coming and going from the driveway where the stolen truck sat.
In the early stages of the standoff, a woman’s voice was heard on the loud hailer telling the occupant of the stolen truck to come out.
Deputies initially thought there may have been two occupants in the truck.
“Occupants of the white Chevy truck,” the deputy shouted. “Come out with your arms up. There is no way out. Exit out of the driver’s door.”
After an hour without luck, members of the sheriff’s Mental Evaluation Team were called in.
The same loud hailer message was given by an MET member.
“You will be treated well,” the MET member said. “No one wants to hurt you.”
Mental Evaluation Team
For more than a half-hour, the MET member tried to elicit any type of response from the occupant.
“Shake the truck if you can hear me,” he said.
On two occasions, he followed up on the command with: “Very good.”
Still, however, the truck occupant would not come out.
Three hours into the standoff, as children barred from their homes played chasing games near deputies standing guard at the perimeter, a deputy wearing protective gear including a transparent face protector carried a long bag from a patrol car to the alleyway.
At 6:45 p.m., a loud pop sound was heard with the command: “Step out of the vehicle so that we can have a peaceful resolution to this.”
At 6:50 p.m., a series of rat-a-tat-tats was heard coming from the alleyway.
The sound was later identified as a “pepper ball loading” device.
“It shoots projectiles that contain an amount of powder similar to pepper spray that contaminates an area,” Sgt. Steve Upton said.
SCV sheriff’s spokeswoman Shirley Miller said of the pepper ball device: “She didn’t like it and she did exit the vehicle.”
About 7 p.m., a cluster of deputies walked a woman wearing what appeared to be a Santa Claus hat and fake white beard from the stolen truck to a patrol car backed into the driveway.
A female deputy checked the woman and placed her in the back of the patrol car.
The woman was arrested on suspicion of grand theft auto.