Three agents from Immigration Customs Enforcement have been injured in a shootout during an early morning gang sweep raid in Petaluma, Calif. The suspect was captured and is currently in custody.
The agents were part of ICE's Homeland Security Investigations division. They were serving a high-risk warrant at a suspected gang member's residence as part of an ongoing investigation, reported KTVU. The three officers were shot near a home on McNeil Avenue and South McDowell Boulevard around 4 a.m.
The special agents were taken to a nearby hospital for their injuries. Spokeswoman for ICE, Virginia Kice said that their wounds were not life threatening and the suspect was taken into custody at the scene, reported KTVU.
Several neighbors saw cars coming and going from the house frequently.
To be honest, I thought they were selling weed out of the house, but obviously something more crazy was going on, Joseph Sullivan said, a neighbor, reported the Press Democrat.
Around 4 a.m., witness heard a commotion coming from the residence. Bob Everhart, the manager of a nearby Best Western Hotel said he heard several gunshots and yelling, Santa Rosa Press Democrat. He heard loud bangs, that he suspected could have been concussion grenades.
After about a half hour, everything was quiet, but then another shootout ensued, Santa Rosa Press Democrat.
Everheart left the hotel to try to determine what happened. He a large number of law enforcement officials and was ordered to return to the Best Western.
Pretty much the neighborhood was on lockdown at that point, he said.
Several guests were suddenly awakened by the sound of gunfire.
It was really bedlam, said John Stickle, 64, of Watsonville, who was staying at the Best Western, reported the Press Democrat.
Caroline Uland, who lives on McNeil Avenue said the sounds of explosions woke her up. She was concerned a criminal evaded custody after helicopters were distpateched to the seen, reported the Press Democrat.
It was kind of frightening, she said.
Around 6 a.m., Everheart was told residents of his hotel were allowed to enter and leave the area.
Nearly 200 officers were involved in the massive raid at 12 locations around the Bay Area. They were targeting gang members suspected of killing three rivals in South San Francisco on Dec 22, 2010, reported the, reported Mercury News. The killings of of Gonzalo Avalos, 19, Omar Cortez, 18 and Hector Flores, 20, whom police suspected were all gang members, shook the small community and set off an 18 month investigation that led to gangs, gungs and the drug trade.