A Hollister Pop Warner junior peewee football team and cheerleaders were in the nearby vicinity when a wanted assailant drove a stolen vehicle onto the Gilroy High football field Sunday afternoon before an officer fired a shot at the suspect.
The incident happened after 1 p.m. when the suspect drove onto an unattended field near the location where the Hollister Vikings Pop Warner team had been playing a team from Gilroy.
According to a Facebook post from Hollister Vikings Youth Football and Cheer posted Sunday night:
“Today, during the JP game between Gilroy and Hollister, there was an incident involving the police and a suspect where a shot was fired around the immediate area where the game was being played. Cheer participants and others found cover under the bleachers while upcoming PW teams were locked down in the locker room”
Representatives for the Hollister Vikings organization were not immediately available Monday morning. A Gilroy Police Department spokesman was not immediately available Monday morning either.
According to the Gilroy Police Department in a statement released Sunday, the following occurred:
In the morning hours of September 9, 2018 the Gilroy Police Department was made aware of a stolen vehicle that occurred in the city of Fresno, California. These wanted bulletins are often forwarded to police agencies state wide. The suspect associated to the stolen vehicle had no direct ties to the Gilroy area. Included in the bulletin was information that the suspect is a former police officer and had access to firearms. He had recently tried to access a firearm from a family member.
At approximately 1:00 P.M. the suspect called the Gilroy Police communication’s center. He asked to borrow a cellular phone from a person in the area to call the police. During the call, he referenced the stolen vehicle case from Fresno. He told dispatchers that the woman who reported the vehicle stolen had been kidnapped and the stolen vehicle he had, was stolen from him while in Gilroy. The suspect refused to provide specific information to police dispatchers. The suspect disconnected with dispatchers and left the area, stealing the cellular phone from the developmentally disabled citizen who allowed him to use it.
Minutes later he called police dispatchers again. He made mention of athletic games taking place at the Gilroy High School campus and his desire to fight with police officers. Officers immediately responded to that area and located him driving a vehicle through an unattended ball field. This field is directly adjacent to the Gilroy High stadium where several hundred 5th and 6th graders playing in a series of Pop Warner program football games. Several parents attending the game, did an outstanding job in recognizing the danger, and rushed to close the gates leading the field where the young football players were engaged in their games.
There is no exit in the area and the suspect began to exit via the same path he took to enter the field. As officers moved into this area to contact him, he drove his vehicle directly at an officer who was on the same path and on foot. The officer was in a confined area and had no escape as this trail is lined with fencing on both sides. The officer feared he would be seriously injured or killed and he discharged his weapon once in an effort to defend himself. The officer was aware of the risks in the area and knew his backdrop was clear of any other people minimizing risks to those uninvolved in the incident.
The officers’ actions caused the suspect lost control of his vehicle in the field area and surrendered to officers. The attendees and players were ordered to shelter in place until the area was deemed safe. Nobody was injured in the event to include the officer or the suspect. The suspect is NOT an employee of or in any way affiliated with the Gilroy Unified School District or the Pop Warner program. Several witnesses were present to this event and will be interviewed by Detectives.
The officer will be placed on routine Administrative leave which is consistent with our department policy. The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office has been notified and will review all related reports upon their completion. As this investigation is still unfolding, the identity of the suspect and his booking charges will be released in coming days.
Anyone with information regarding this crime are urged to call Gilroy Police Detectives at (408) 846-0350. Parties wishing to remain anonymous may call the We-Tip Line at (800) 782-7463.