After an intense early-morning standoff with a Bakersfield Police SWAT team, a known gang member and suspected attempted murderer is in custody.
The standoff began on Tuesday at about 12:53 a.m. at home near the intersection of 7th and K streets in Central Bakersfield, when the suspect, 26-year-old James Lamar Thomas, fled from a vehicle he was a passenger in during a routine traffic stop in the 700 block of K Street.
Police said they tracked Thomas to a nearby house where he was suspected of hiding along with four adults and two children. After repeated requests by officers to surrender were ignored, a SWAT team was called in to the location.
Shortly after arriving, SWAT was able to confirm that Thomas was indeed inside the residence during an exchange of communication with the occupants that Thomas’ family members said he knows. However, police have not confirmed that information.
Following several hour of negotiations, Thomas finally surrendered peacefully without incident just before 4:00 a.m. and was immediately arrested and booked into the Kern County Sheriff’s Office Jail for attempted murder, participation in a criminal street gang, evading an officer and a weapons violation.
Police confirmed that Thomas, who has been arrested nine times on felony charges but has avoided prosecution, was already wanted in connection with a shooting that happened around 1 a.m. April 20 on the 1900 block of Eye Street.
Thomas was also arrested as recently as February 15, 2013 for three armed robbery charges.
Michaela Beard, Public Information Officer for the Bakersfield Police Dept. said the arrest of Thomas is significant.“It is extremely important that we have arrested this suspect in connection with the April 20th, 2013 shooting,” she said. “The Bakersfield Police Department continues to protect and serve the community by aggressively pursuing leads and using excellent investigative techniques to help make our neighborhoods safer. ”
KBAK/KBFX: Gangster, Shooter Arrested by SWAT team
Bakersfield Californian:SWAT team Called Out After Man Flees Attempted Vehicle Stop