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Arrest ends 15-hour Atascadero standoff

Atascadero police and members of the SWAT team stage on Alamo Street at its intersection with Dolores Avenue in Atascadero, a couple of blocks east of a home where a man had barricaded himself for about 16 hours since early Thursday morning.
Atascadero police and members of the SWAT team stage on Alamo Street at its intersection with Dolores Avenue in Atascadero, a couple of blocks east of a home where a man had barricaded himself for about 16 hours since early Thursday morning. The Tribune

An Atascadero man, who at one point brandished an ice pick and later a machete according to police, held authorities in a nearly 15-hour standoff from his barricaded home that ultimately ended in his surrender Thursday afternoon.

“It seems anti-climactic, but it’s the best outcome possible because no one was harmed,” Atascadero police Chief Jerel Haley said.

At about 2:20 p.m. Thursday, the man surrendered without incident after San Luis Obispo County sheriff’s deputies coaxed him from the home. Authorities remained on scene into Thursday evening to evaluate the home and clear it of tear gas and other items related to the incident.

On Thursday evening, authorities booked Rudolph Charles Muravez II, 45, in County Jail on suspicion of three felony charges, including assault with a deadly weapon and false imprisonment. He had an outstanding felony warrant for violation of his probation. He is being held without bail.

They hadn’t said what his motivations were, but indicated that an issue with prescription medication might have been a factor. Specifics were not disclosed. At one point, a county mental health worker was on scene to help with negotiations.

Police said the man could face charges of cohabitant battery with injury, as well as additional charges not yet disclosed.

Police first responded to the house on Dolores Avenue on Atascadero’s eastside at 11:38 p.m. Wednesday after a woman called 911 to report domestic abuse.

The woman — believed to be the suspect’s wife — and two children inside the house escaped, police said. The children reportedly were uninjured, and the extent of the woman’s injuries wasn’t disclosed.

The standoff transformed what neighbors describe as a usually quiet residential area into a scene involving about 25 law enforcement personnel from Atascadero and elsewhere in San Luis Obispo County, an armored vehicle with deputies in camouflage and a mass of onlookers tucked along side streets behind yellow tape.

Watching from afar was Michelle Watson, who lives on nearby Alamo Avenue. Of the people living in the Dolores Avenue home, she said, “I never see them. They are really quiet.”

Neighbor Sharon Meyers was part of another group of onlookers who scoped out the house where the standoff took place with binoculars.

“This is the most excitement that’s happened in 30 years on this street,” she said.

While the authorities believed the man wasn’t armed and no firearms were found registered in his name, they moved through the day’s events with care still taking precautions in case he had a gun.

Authorities described the man as “tenacious” because he was uncooperative throughout the day. Law enforcement negotiators attempted for hours to negotiate the man’s surrender, pairing the talks with other tactics such as firing tear gas canisters into the house, their loud pops echoing through the neighborhood.

“The (SWAT) team usually uses a variety of tactics to keep a suspect agitated,” Haley said. “And when he withstands the barrage of tactics, we know it’s someone firmly committed and entrenched. And that causes us concern, that he’ll cause harm to himself or us,” he added, explaining why authorities didn’t rush the house, instead taking their time to defuse the situation.

Other tactics authorities said they could have used were cutting off electricity, water and gas to the home. Passing a cell phone to the man to further negotiations was also an option.

At various points, the man stopped talking with negotiators but appeared occasionally through the windows and was seen moving inside the house, Atascadero Police Department spokesman Sgt. Gregg Meyer said.

Meyer also said that at one point officers saw the man naked, but he later dressed again.

The San Luis Obispo County Bomb Task Force was summoned so its robot could be used to check out the property, though it was never used.

Presentation Editor Joe Tarica contributed to this report.

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