North Bay News
Exclusive: Family discusses home raid in Petaluma
PETALUMA, Calif. (KGO) -- Three federal agents were wounded in a shootout in Petaluma while trying to serve high risk arrest warrants Thursday morning. Homeland Security and multiple local police agencies took part in the raid at McNeil Avenue and South McDowell Boulevard.
Witnesses described it as a war. Loud explosions followed by gunfire that went on for several minutes as federal agents stormed the house. Residents living around the suspects' house say they awoke to the sound of sustained gunfire.
"It was a gun battle; it was a war, it was a little war in the street at four in the morning," Frank Borruso said.
Agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement cut through a garage door and stormed the house. Three were hit by gunfire coming from inside -- two of them serious wounded. One agent was airlifted to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital another was taken by ambulance. At the hospital, agents could not talk publicly about what happened, but ABC7 News was told both of the wounded agents will be OK.
For people living around the house the raid came as a shock.
"It's been a crazy, crazy morning of us here in this community," Bob Everhart said.
People in the neighborhood say a man and a woman and two small children live in the house that was raided. One man inside was arrested.
The early morning raids targeted multiple locations based on warrants related to several murders and attempted murders on the Peninsula. In all, 13 people were arrested. U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag said their crimes were violent.
"Four attempted murders in Daly City on Dec. 18, 2010 and three murders and four attempted murders in South San Francisco on Dec 22, 2010," Haag said.
Police and federal agents raided a house in San Bruno at about 4 a.m. Jose Morales was in the garage at the time getting ready for work.
"They said, 'Get your hands up,' and I put my hands up against the refrigerator and all of a sudden it went boom they started running," Morales said.
"Morales says dozens of officers entered his home; he says they searched every inch of the house.
"Weapons is what they were looking for," Morales said.
Authorities arrested his girlfriend and her 25-year-old year son.
The operation was tied to a triple gang murder near a small park in South San Francisco in December 2010. The shootings left three others wounded. The victims were members of the Cypress Park Locos, Norteno gang members who wear red. Police say the shooters are likely their rivals, another faction of Nortenos called the 500 Block and C-Street gangs. Thursday's operation was directed against them.
Those arrested Thursday face serious charges.
The United States attorney could bring a potential death sentence for four of the defendants and life imprisonment for 12 others," Homeland Security agent-in-charge Clark Settles said.
Exclusive interview with family who got raided
The family in Petaluma is so upset that they don't even want to go back to their home. They called ABC7 Thursday evening, specifically to share their story.
"I was very scared because I thought they were going to kill us," Victor Flores said.
Victor didn't want to show his face, but he says he and his two sons were inside their Petaluma home when federal agents stormed in Thursday morning. He says his oldest son, Victor Jr., started shooting at the agents, who he says were wearing all black, with nothing identifying themselves as officers.
"We shot back because we thought they were gangsters. We never knew they were police because they never introduced themselves as police officers," Victor said.
As for Victor Jr., he was taken into custody. Authorities say he's one of 13 suspected gang members arrested Thursday morning for a triple murder in South San Francisco in 2010.
"Without a shadow of a doubt, this incident underscores how dangerous this gang is, and why this morning's arrest is such welcome news for residents of this community," Clark Settles with Homeland Security Investigations said.
But Victor Jr.'s younger brother says he is no gang member and certainly no murderer "because he's not doing anything bad, he hasn't even gone out lately anymore. He just stays home and plays Xbox with me."
The family doesn't plan to go back to the house anytime soon. They're worried about what else might happen to them. Victor Sr. says he got bruised while officers roughed him up and the brother says he was stomped on the head when officers pinned him to the ground.
"They treated me like a dog and I'm barely 14. I'm just a minor. I didn't even do nothing. They just like pushed me around and all that," the brother said.
Victor Jr. and the other suspected gang members are scheduled to appear in federal court Friday at 11 a.m.
petaluma, gang violence, crime, north bay news
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