By Chelsea Phua, Bill Lindelof and Anna Tong
The 55 1/2-hour Arden Way standoff ended Friday night after Sacramento County sheriff's deputies fatally shot Anthony Alvarez and rescued a 16-month-old boy who had been held in an apartment.
Sacramento County Sheriff John McGinness said his officers detonated an explosive that blew two holes in the apartment wall and got a good visual of the suspect, who was in close proximity to the baby. Alvarez was shot multiple times. No officers were shot, but one sustained a cut to his leg, he said.
A SWAT team member wearing fatigues carried the toddler from the Arden Towne apartments about 7:15 p.m. McGinness said the baby was unhurt. Authorities said the baby was taken to the UC Davis Medical Center to be examined.
A television cameraman heard officers on the police scanner say, "suspect's dead" and said it out loud. Tessa Alvarez, the suspect's sister, was standing nearby and collapsed into her husband's arms crying. They immediately left the scene in their car.
McGinness described the operation as successful and said that he gave the green light for his officers to use deadly force if that would safely and effectively rescue the baby.
"That window of opportunity presented itself," the sheriff said in a news conference following the baby's appearance.
After the standoff, Arden Towne residents looked forward to returning to their apartments.
"I'm just glad it's over so we can start our lives again," said Helen Allen. "All of us have been uprooted. I'm going to take a long shower."
Another resident, Heather Pantalone, said, "I just want to go home and sleep in my bed."
Both may have to wait until mid-Saturday morning to return to their residences because the area remains cordoned off as a major crime scene for investigations.
Just hours before, the department was preparing for the standoff to last "two, four more days or even a week," said sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Tim Curran.
Earlier in the afternoon, a Sacramento Sheriff's Department robot delivered "liquids and snacks" to the armed robbery suspect, who was holed up in an apartment at 2400 Arden Way, officials said.
The goods were delivered to Alvarez in an "attempt to gain his trust," Curran said.
In a briefing for reporters about 1:20 p.m., McGinness said getting the boy out safely was "all that matters."
"The collective goal ... is to bring the child out safe and well," McGinness said.
McGinness said the standoff was the longest hostage situation in his department's modern history and may be one of the longest nationally.
With the SWAT members tied up, patrols in the rest of the county suffered during the standoff, McGinness said. At one point, only six deputies were available to patrol the entire unincorporated county, he said.
McGinness thanked the Sacramento Police Department for supplying its SWAT members to relieve the sheriff's SWAT. He also thanked the California Highway Patrol for handling traffic and other duties around the standoff site.
According to a relative, Alvarez is schizophrenic and bipolar and had not been taking his medications.
Deputies and Sacramento police had shot at Alvarez several times over the three days of the standoff. Alvarez had fired at officers several times.
Alvarez is suspected of a bank robbery in the Bay Area and shooting at a Concord police officer.
Concord police officers backed by sheriff's deputies tried to arrest Alvarez around 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, but Alvarez grabbed the boy and the standoff began.
Alvarez shot at Sacramento County sheriff's deputies in the early morning hours and fired at a robot. Alvarez fired several times at a robotic device as it rolled up to the apartment after sunrise, Curran said. The deputies are using a robot to try and monitor Alvarez.
Curran said that overnight, six or seven shots were fired, some indiscriminate but others directly at SWAT deputies.
Several times between 4 a.m. and 6 a.m., deputies deployed loud flash-bang explosions outside the apartment.
Bee reporters will stay with this story and take you behind the scenes. Follow updates Saturday online: www.sacbee.com, sacbee.com/sacto911
A Sacramento Sheriff's Department SWAT team member looks for paramedics after a young boy was rescued after being held hostage for by a robbery suspect in the Arden Towne apartments for three days. Photo by Andy Alfaro
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Robbery suspect holds 16-month-old for a second night - June 11, 2010
Official: Child's health 'ultimate priority' during long standoff - June 10, 2010