Video, audio captures moments before hostage-taking suspect was shot and killed by law enforcement

Local News

CALAVERAS COUNTY (KTXL) — The Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office released footage and audio from a shooting that left a suspect dead during a hostage situation.

Mark Aitulagi Lavea was shot and killed May 6 by Calaveras County deputies and an Angels Camp police officer while the sheriff’s office says he held a 75-year-old hostage at gunpoint.

Earlier that night, multiple people called 911 to report they had seen a couple fighting at the Sierra Inn Motel in San Andreas.

“Well, when I looked out the window I saw him like holding her in a headlock and it looked like he was holding a gun to her head,” one of the callers explains.

In one of the calls released by the sheriff’s office, a witness tells dispatch she saw a little girl with the couple.

According to the sheriff’s office, Deputy Sheriff Jonathan Brown later found the female victim at the Diamond Place apartment complex on Lewis Avenue. While the two spoke in the parking lot, shots rang out and a bullet hit Deputy Brown.

“A solo deputy was talking with her, getting some additional information. While speaking with her the suspect ambushed both of them,” said Calaveras County Sheriff’s Sgt. Greg Stark.

A patrol vehicle took Brown to a local trauma center, where the sheriff’s office says his gunshot wound was treated and he was later released.

As deputies and officers surrounded the apartment complex, Sgt. Stark says Lavea called 911 to request a conversation with law enforcement at the scene.

“Unbeknownst to the deputies, the suspect had entered a home of an innocent bystander who was sitting in her living room, an elderly female in her 70s,” Sgt. Stark explained. 

A deputy on the line with Livea is heard shouting, “Stay on the phone, Mark. Show us your hands!”

Lavea then repeatedly demands he be able to talk to his wife. “Put my wife on the line,” he repeats over and over again in the audio released by the sheriff’s office.

Footage from a helicopter flying above the scene shows what appears to be Lavea walking behind the 75-year-old hostage as she uses a walker.

The YouTube video released by the sheriff’s office is available here. Viewer discretion is advised.

Lavea continues to say, “I love you, babe,” to his wife while the sheriff’s office says he held a gun behind the hostage. Before Lavea falls to the ground and shots fly from all directions, a deputy’s body camera picks up a woman screaming, “Don’t do it!”

According to the sheriff’s office, Lavea was shot by a deputy before getting back on his feet and firing once toward law enforcement. Deputies fired at him at least two more times before he lay unmoving and face down on the ground.

Deputies in the body cameras footage are heard saying Lavea appeared to have gunshot wounds to his chest, stomach and legs. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The sheriff’s office says the hostage, who was later rushed to an area hospital, appeared to have been hit by fragments from law enforcement’s gunfire. They do not know if Lavea shot the woman.

Lavea’s firearm was later found at the scene, according to the sheriff’s office.

The sheriff’s office reports Lavea had “a lengthy criminal history dating back to 1989.” An unserved domestic violence restraining order had been issued against him on April 20.

The deputies involved in the shooting have been placed on administrative leave and the investigation is ongoing.

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