Sierra Madre Business Web Pages ($125/year, with dedicated domain name, add $50 - Sierra Madre businesses only)
Premium Advertiser Web Pages ($250/year, with dedicated domain name, add $50 - non-Sierra Madre businesses allowed, includes premium link placement and logo)
Sierra Madre Police in Standoff with Man Barricaded in Home
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Coverage during and immediately after the event (chronologically placed, earliest is at bottom, includes photo and video coverage)
Eight+ Hour Standoff Ends Peacefully
By Bill Coburn
Shortly after 8pm on Thursday, more than eight hours after it began, a standoff between police and a barricaded suspect that wreaked havoc on the lives of those involved, those in the neighborhood, and on the downtown business district, ended with no exchange of gunfire, no deaths, no injuries.
According to Police Chief Marilyn Diaz, “primarily, what drew us to the location was that we had physical evidence linking him to a car theft here in Sierra Madre…So the officers went up to do a very casual door knock….to see if he would come out and they could make a relatively low-key arrest.” At 11:50am, two Sierra Madre Police officers arrived at 39 Windsor Lane but the suspect, 36-year old Roberto “Pancho” Funston, walked out the back door to his home, and upon seeing an SMPD detective out back, went back in and barricaded himself, refusing to come out.
Despite requests heard blocks away from the public address system of a Pasadena Police Dept. helicopter that he come outside and talk to the police, Funston stayed inside, barricaded with two pit bulls. According to Chief Marilyn Diaz, the home belongs to his mother, and Funston has been living there off and on during the last year.
According to Chief Diaz, Funston had a prior criminal record, but she declined to state his record citing the suspect’s right to privacy. Asked about rumors that had been heard downtown during the day that the reason for the length of the standoff was that Funston would have, if convicted of either the narcotics or grand theft charges, been facing a “third strike” conviction and sentenced to life in prison under California law, Chief Diaz said that “in checking the suspect’s criminal history, there was nothing in there to suggest he was a second or third striker.”
“As we spoke to witnesses, we learned that he had made some serious threats that could have jeopardized the lives of public safety officers as well as the public, so it left us with little choice but to move in and take the steps we did, by enlisting the assistance of the LA County Sheriff’s Dept. Special Enforcement Bureau (SEB).”
Diaz added that prior to bringing in the SEB, the Crisis Negotiation Team (CNT) of the LA Sheriff’s Dept., was utilized to try and contact the suspect.
Attempts were made to contact Funston by land line, but it was disconnected. Law enforcement officers tried calling by cell phone, which he didn’t answer, and they broke a window and threw a phone inside and, using both helicopter and SMPD vehicle PA Systems, tried to get Funston to speak with them by phone. “Each of these steps we did repeatedly because we weren’t in a hurry and we wanted to find a peaceful resolution to this situation.’
Asked if Funston was armed, Diaz stated that he was not. Asked if there had been a time when the police thought he might be armed, Diaz said “We weren’t sure. According to family members, they did not see him with any guns in the house.”
After repeated attempts to communicate by the Crisis Negotiation Team with no success, the tactical operations were turned over to the LA County Sheriff’s SEB. This was done sometime around 5:30 – 6pm, said Diaz, who noted that she was not sure of the time, as she did not have her notes in front of her. “They too, didn’t rush into the situation, they took time to evaluate the area, scout the location, and make preparations that they do before deciding their strategy or tactics,” said Diaz, adding that finally the SEB employed tear gas inside the location and the suspect came out within minutes and gave himself up. The SEB turned him over to SMPD, which took him to LA County Jail. According to a press release issued by the City Thursday night, Funston will appear in Pasadena Court on Monday, July 28, 2008.
Regarding rumors that the SEB entered the location with dogs, Diaz stated that that was not true, that “they would not take dogs into that location, with the tear gas.” She confirmed that no shots had been fired other than the tear gas. Diaz stated that after the suspect was taken into custody, it was discovered that there was a second no-bail warrant for narcotics on a federal level for Funston that they had previously been unaware of.
Having heard rumors that the suspect had been involved with manufacturing methamphetamines, I asked if Chief Diaz could tell me if the narcotics warrant had to do with methamphetamines, and she stated that she did not know the type of narcotics or what the specific charge is.
In addition to the Sheriff’s Dept. and its SEB and CNT units, law enforcement agents from Glendale, Monrovia and Arcadia assisted, as well as CHP officers and the Pasadena Police Dept. helicopter. More than a dozen members of the Sierra Madre Fire Dept. were also on hand in case they were needed.
Update re: Suspect's Criminal Record From the Mountain Views Observer 7/25/08 edition: Since at least 1992, Roberto Funston, 36, has been in and out of jail. Funston has no less than nine other arrests and/or convictions with the most recent being December, 2007. The charges range from Possession of a Pipe and Drug Paraphernelia, to Receiving Stolen Property, Carrying a Concealed Weapon, Possession of Narcotics for Sale; and Battery on a Spouse. Earlier this year he was convicted on yet another drug charge and was scheduled to be sentenced in the early part of May. He failed to return to court and a warrant was issued for his arrest on Thursday.
9:18pm - Here's the City's Press Release
(8:30pm) They Got Him!!
Roberto "Pancho" Funston, 36, surrendered to Sheriff's Deputies after tear gas was fired into the home at 39 Windsor Lane, shortly after 8pm. Deputies then turned him over to Sierra Madre PD, who will transport him to LA County Jail. The dogs are okay. He was arrested on a no-bail narcotics warrant, and was also wanted for grand theft auto.
(4:30pm, 7/24) BARRICADE UPDATE - This morning at 11:50am, police attempted to serve a no-bail warrant for narcotics at 39 Windsor Lane. According to Public Information Officer Elisa Weaver, the suspect, whose name the police have not yet released (though everybody seems to know who it is) came out on the porch with his mother and was cooperative for a short time but then went inside and barricaded himself indoors. It is believed that the suspect is alone in the house with two pit bulls. The mother is not with him. Arcadia, Monrovia and Glendale police, as well as the Sheriffs are on the scene. Pasadena Police has also been involved with their helicopter circling overhead and their PA system used to tell the suspect "Roberto at 39 Windsor, pick up the phone, the police want to talk to you." A command post has been set up behind the doctor's office next to the Playhouse at Auburn and Montecito Court. Auburn and Windsor are closed at Sierra Madre Blvd and at Montecito. Bethany School was closed down due to its proximity to the site. Windsor Lane has been evacuated with a shelter set up at the Rec. Center.
(12:30pm, 7/24) Helicopter Assisting SMPD at Windsor Lane, Just Above the Blvd.
According to Officer Amos, with whom I spoke moments ago, the circling helicopter overhead is assisting officers looking for "a subject" on Windsor Lane, just north of the old City Hall.
Copyright © 1998 - 2011 by The Coburn Group, Sierra Madre. All logos, trademarks or product names mentioned or displayed herein are the property of their respective owners. All photographs and videos on this site Copyright 1998 - 2011, by Bill Coburn, Sierra Madre, CA unless otherwise noted. Any reference to the City of Sierra Madre or Sierra Madre applies to the community of Sierra Madre and not the city government. The City of Sierra Madre, California government is not affiliated with Sierra Madre News.Net at this time. Any city government information provided herein has been previously published for public dissemination and is shown here as a public service of Sierra Madre News.Net without explicit permission of the government of the City of Sierra Madre.