After a 14-hour standoff in which phone calls and tear gas failed to sway a heavily armed, barricaded suspect, Los Angeles police dusted off a tool of the '80s--the tank-like battering ram--to plow into a Boyle Heights home and arrest the man.
Glenn Edward Rivas, 37, a six-year Army veteran, was taken into custody Tuesday night. Inside his half of a duplex, partially bulldozed by the battering ram vehicle, police found an assault rifle, an explosive device, homemade silencers, bullet holes in the walls and ceiling, acidic liquid, 4-inch bullets, wads of cash and at least three handguns.
Bomb and booby-trap recipes decorated the walls. A military-type cot faced the doorway. An American flag hung on the back wall. Rivas had tunneled through the center wall of the duplex, giving him access to both units, police said.
The standoff began after neighbors heard gunshots coming from the house at 4:30 a.m. and again half an hour later. Next-door neighbor Evie Dimaggio said she had heard occasional shots in the house before, but this time the repeated firing prompted her to call police.
By nightfall, police had arrested Rivas on suspicion of shooting a weapon within city limits. Although he was not injured, he was being held for medical observation at County Jail on Wednesday in lieu of $1-million bail.
The LAPD unveiled its battering ram in the mid-1980s to knock down well-fortified homes that were being used for selling and smoking crack cocaine. The technique was controversial; civil libertarians contended that it was excessive. The ram had last been used in 1991, but Tuesday's unusual circumstances led police to bring it out of retirement.
During the standoff, a delivery service brought a package to Rivas' home. Inside the box--labeled as containing cookies--police found 600 rounds of automatic-weapon ammunition. About the same time, police determined Rivas had 12 guns registered in his name.
The standoff in the 3200 block of East 5th Street lasted from 6 a.m. until after 8 p.m., with the street blocked off most of that time. With the battering ram on 5th and an 18-wheel mobile command unit on a side street, the neighborhood looked like a movie set. About 30 heavily armed SWAT officers walked along the streets wearing gas masks. When they released the tear gas, many spectators retreated from their lawns to their homes to avoid the fumes.
The SWAT team fired 38 rounds of tear gas, which failed to bring Rivas out. Police then obtained a warrant for use of the ram.
Police said Rivas' father and stepmother, who live in a unit behind the duplex, told them they had heard banging inside the duplex for the past couple of days and believed that Rivas had dug a hole or tunnel through the kitchen floor.
They said he was distraught over his grandfather's death two weeks ago and had been volatile. A 1995 restraining order barred Rivas from approaching them.