An hours-long firefight between Bakersfield police and a suspected car thief in a residential southwest neighborhood ended Friday evening with the suspect being taken to the hospital with multiple gunshot wounds, authorities said.
The man was identified as 29-year-old Miguel Villanueva of Bakersfield. He was in stable condition at an area hospital, police Sgt. Joe Grubbs joe grubbs told reporters at about 8:30 p.m.
Villanueva was shot at about 7 p.m., during one of several exchanges of gunfire between him and police at a triplex on McDonald Way between Belle Terrace and Ming Avenue, just east of West High School, Grubbs said.
No police officers were injured.
Exactly how Villanueva’s gunshot wounds occurred was not immediately clear Friday night, even to Grubbs. Villanueva had been holed up in a garage for hours, during which time authorities attempted to negotiate with him, fired tear gas in his direction and deployed a robot to communicate with him.
At one point, Grubbs said, Villanueva said he “was gonna go down in a blaze of glory.”
Grubbs described Villanueva as a parolee who has prior weapons convictions, gang ties and a charge for evading in a vehicle.
Grubbs did not know which hospital the suspect was taken to, how many times he was shot, where he was shot or what caliber weapon he used in the gunfight.
Villanueva was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder of a police officer and additional charges are expected, Grubbs said.
The incident started at about 3 p.m. when a California Highway Patrol officer attempted to stop Villanueva because he was using a cell phone while driving, Grubbs said. He said authorities later learned the car, spray-painted black, was stolen.
A short pursuit — about a mile long — of the suspect in the stolen car began at Belle Terrace and Castro Lane, Grubbs said.
He said Villanueva ended up crashing into a parked vehicle near Belle Terrace and McDonald Way, got out of the stolen car and fled. The CHP officer temporarily lost sight of him.
A citizen told the CHP officer she saw the suspect flee into a detached garage in the 1000 block of McDonald Way just south of Belle Terrace and several CHP officers responded to help find him, he said.
The suspect fired at a CHP officer and nearly struck him, Grubbs said. Bakersfield police responded to the scene and the suspect fired at them, too, he said. He said at least one BPD officer fired back.
West High School was locked down. Students were released shortly after 5 p.m.
The Kern County Sheriff’s Office SWAT and BPD SWAT and bomb squad members arrived and used a robot to communicate with Villanueva, Grubbs said. Villanueva’s family members were summoned to the scene to help convince him to surrender peacefully.
After several hours of negotiation, SWAT officers made contact with Villanueva and an officer-involved shooting ensued, during which the suspect was hurt, Grubbs said.
During the ordeal, dozens of police vehicles, a fire truck, and ambulance were on scene and a several-block area was cordoned off with police tape. Some neighborhood residents were evacuated.
At least eight booms were heard as authorities fired off tear gas in an attempt to smoke Villanueva out. A sheriff’s helicopter circled overhead as did a surveillance airplane. Police car sirens blared and red and blue lights flashed as officers directed traffic and blocked off streets.
McDonald Way and a portion of Belle Terrace was still closed Friday night. Police expected to reopen Belle Terrace within a few hours. McDonald Way will likely be closed until Saturday morning, Grubbs said.
Frustrated residents — many of them tired after a day of work — were kept out of their neighborhood by police tape. Several waited at the corner of McDonald Way and Belle Terrace.
Resident Roy Hernandez was concerned because his girlfriend was at their home a couple blocks from the standoff with four children and he couldn’t get to them.
When she called him worried about the gunfire she was hearing, he told her to hide behind a refrigerator and that he’d be there soon.
“Shootings happen here all the time but normally I’m there,” Hernandez said, waiting in his pickup with his son, niece and nephew. “She’s alone now. I’m worried for her.”
Resident Sasha Purrie passed the time sitting on a curb and reading the crime novel “Treachery in Death” by J.D. Robb.
She said her fiance, Jason Greenwood, was home all day lying on the ground in their apartment to avoid being hit by stray bullets.
“I’ve been waiting for an hour,” she complained. “I know the police will get him. I just want to go home.”
When several shots were heard in the neighborhood, Dora Velasquez raised her head to see what was happening. She lives on Belle Terrace and police wouldn’t let her into the neighborhood. Dora Velasquez
“It’s nerve-racking knowing there’s a shooting,” Velasquez said. “It’s a little scary to know because I’m right there next to it.”
Whitney Walker Whitney Walker heard four or five shots when the initial gunfight started and she also lives on Belle Terrace.
“The next thing I heard was ‘come out with your hands up,’” Walker said. “That’s when I knew I better get inside.”