Witnesses describe tense standoff, hostage situation at Oak Park home

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) -- Sacramento police say an armed man who fled into an Oak Park home Tuesday with a teenage hostage has been taken into custody.

By Wednesday morning, police said eight hostages had safely escaped the Mello Court house, where the armed man fled after leading police on a slow-speed chase Tuesday afternoon.

Sacramento Police Sgt. Sabrina Briggs said two of the hostages, a woman and the 13-year-old girl, who was believed to have been kidnapped by the suspect when the situation all began, were the last to safely escape around 8:14 a.m.

Briggs told reporters the woman acted heroically, grabbing the teenager when the suspect wasn't looking and running out of the home.

The man, who police have not identified, is suspected in a domestic violence assault and the kidnapping of that teen girl.

“This man in a pickup was going by with four flat tires and about 17 squad cars behind him," witness Ronnie Tellez said.

Tellez said he spotted the suspect as his grandchildren were walking home from school in the neighborhood.

"He turned left on Mello Court but he probably didn't know it was a court ... so he was stuck,” Tellez said. “He forced himself onto a man who was working on his car and forced him and all of his kids in the house."

The suspect who was in a standoff with police for nearly 24 hours is seen being driven away in a patrol car.

FOX40 spoke to that man who said he and his daughter were hostages. He said everyone is doing OK but they were still shaken up.

Another witness said as the suspect drove by, the girl was in the passenger seat with the seat fully reclined so it would appear no one was there.

"He had a girl with him and he used her as a shield,” Tellez said, which was later confirmed by Sgt. Briggs.

Tellez said the suspect held onto her by putting her in a chokehold.

Police have not given a motive for the suspect's actions but believe the teen girl and suspect know each other.

Neighbors were anxious for it all to come to an end but were grateful no one was seriously hurt.

"This, all the action, it was crazy," Tellez told FOX40.

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The work of a crisis negotiator

Negotiators with the Sacramento Police Department and the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office communicated with the suspect for hours. Sgt. Michelle Baxter, who is part of the Placer County Sheriff’s Office Hostage Negotiation Team, explained how their job might have played out.

“We, typically, meet with the deputies or sergeants on scene who have the most information about the incident and we get a debrief on what has occurred and the information that they know that led the situation to that particular point,” Sgt. Baxter said.

Baxter told FOX40 no two situations are the same when a suspect refuses to surrender to police. That’s why negotiators take their time.

“You want to be able to continue a conversation with that person and always hope that it’s moving in a positive manner because when it does move into a positive manner there’s more of a likelihood you’ll end and resolve the situation peacefully,” she explained.

She said the longer a standoff lasts the more emotionally draining it becomes for the suspect, negotiators and officers involved.

But the wait is always worth it if the suspect feels he or she won’t be hurt and gives up peacefully.

"The important thing is to let them know that our goal is to resolve the situation in a safe manner for everyone involved and so we really want to relay that information to them. They're scared, I'm sure, they're angry," Baxter said. "There's things going on in their life that they have maybe some lack of control over. And so, we definitely want to relay to them that our primary goal is to resolve the situation safely for everyone involved and they're included in that group of people."

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