SWAT stand-off at La Mesa motel
The yellow crime tape is still visible at the entrance of the Rodeway Inn. For the better part of five hours Monday, a federal fugitive forced law enforcement officers into a tense and uncertain waiting game.
“There was one gunshot from the room,” said eyewitness Simren Gollian. “The marshals didn’t shoot. It was the guy in the room, or one of the people in the room.”
It was the gunshot that led to the response, as the sheriff’s SWAT team, La Mesa police and U.S. marshals all converged on a motel on Spring Street in La Mesa. The fugitive task force, headed by federal marshals, went looking for 40-year-old Robert Deleon – wanted for violating his federal probation, in connection with the distribution of methamphetamine. The marshals had information that Deleon was staying at the Roadway Inn and this morning when they arrived, they went to his room, heard the sound of a gun racking and a gunshot from inside. A decision was quickly made to back off and surround the immediate area.
The motel was evacuated and so were nearby businesses. Negotiators quickly established communications with the fugitive Deleon and learned that a woman was also inside the motel room. The stand-off stretched from morning into mid-day, then about 2 PM, a loud percussive sound – a flash-bang was heard. The grenade was deployed from law enforcement to get the man’s attention. About half an hour later, the women emerged from the room and was taken in for questioning.
But the stand-off was not over; around 3:20 PM, officers were finally able to enter the room at the Rodeway Inn.
“A SWAT team ended up making entry into the room… ,” began Lt. Matt Nicholas of La Mesa police.
“Deleon had shot himself in the head, taking his own life,” announced U.S. Marshal Steve Jurman. “In conducting our investigation, our fugitive hunt for him, we developed information that he could potentially have a gun and he was certainly going to try to run.”
The woman that came out of the motel earlier, believed to be the man’s girlfriend, doesn’t face any charges at this time. No law enforcement officers were injured during this incident.