WASCO, Calif. (KERO) — A hostage situation Sunday afternoon in Wasco caused an active scene with SWAT teams, police, sheriff deputies, highway patrol officers, and even ambulances. It all started at 1 p.m. Sunday afternoon when the Kern County Sheriff's Office received a report of a possible shooting at a home near Poplar Avenue and 1st Street in Wasco.
“As deputies were in route, there were additional phone calls with subjects shooting in the background and possibly subjects down inside the residence," explained Lt. Joel Swanson of the Kern County Sheriff's Office. "When deputies arrived approximately eight minutes later, a suspect inside the residence began shooting at deputies. The deputies at that time were not struck but they took cover.”
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Swanson said the entire neighborhood was locked down at that time. A neighbor, Pablo Villalobos, who officers safely escorted out of the area said the situation was scary since he and his daughter were in a house two doors down from the home under investigation.
“I looked through all the blinds and saw all the cops surrounding all the houses, and an hour or so passed by, and they started shooting and everything. And it got crazy.”
Swanson said the SWAT team was called in to respond to the scene.
“The information we had there were subjects that were down inside the residence, that we had victims of shootings in the residence. When the SWAT team arrived, they put together a quick react team to make entry into the house.”
Swanson added that just before 3 p.m., the SWAT team approached the home and the suspect began to fire at the deputies from inside.
“Two of our deputies were struck. One with major injuries, one with minor injuries. They were taken to a local hospital."
Swanson said around 6:30 p.m. the suspect continued to shoot at deputies. Another shooting between the suspect and deputies happened.
“The suspect was struck. The suspect is being treated by medical aid and I believe will be transported to a local hospital.”
Officers attempted to clear the house and said they believe there were two people possibly down inside the house.
The mayor of Wasco, Alex Garcia tweeted that one of the deputies had died, but that tweet has since been deleted. However, he later issued the following statement:
"This afternoon, I received news that every Mayor prays to never get. While reporting to a standoff here in Wasco, one of our brave Kern County Sheriff Deputies was killed-in-action and one other was shot and wounded. Although this remains an ongoing situation, at this time I would like share that my heart goes out to the families of both the deputies. Nothing can prepare us for tragedies such as these. In an instant our lives can change forever. I pray that God surrounds these families with his love and give them the strength to make it through this devastating time. I would also like to take the time to thank all our brothers and sisters in the law enforcement & first responder community who valiantly put their lives on the line every day to protect our residents. I cannot thank you enough for the work you do. May God bless you all!"
23ABC has been unable to confirm that one of the deputies had died.
However, 23ABC's Kylie Walker was outside Kern Medical Sunday evening and reported that a flag-draped coffin was taken out by a procession of law enforcement agencies just after 7 p.m. A line of law enforcement agencies could be seen as the coffin was placed in a coroner's transport vehicle. Members of the community were also seen gathering and hugging officers. Some deputies and members of the community could be seen crying.
Lt. Swanson says that we will not be receiving any more updates Sunday night but will receive more information from Sheriff Donny Youngblood Monday.