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Woman Surrenders After Standoff

May 25, 2000|MATT SURMAN

A woman suspected of having two guns and being under the influence of drugs kept SWAT team members at bay in an Oak View motel for nearly five hours Wednesday, forcing the closure of California 33 for several blocks and causing backups as far south as Casitas Springs before she surrendered.

Paulette Lewis, 46, described by neighbors as the owner of a soap shop in midtown Ventura, surrendered to police about 4 p.m. after hours of negotiations. The stand-off began when she allegedly fired a shot about 10:30 a.m. while in a room at the Oakridge Inn, just blocks from her home, and ended only after her son showed up at the scene.

Sheriff's officials said they did not know why Lewis remained holed up with the weapons for hours. Detectives recovered two handguns from the woman's room.

"We're just trying to learn more about her," Senior Deputy Kim Garrett said.

Lewis agreed to give up after she was told she wouldn't be forced face-down on the ground before being arrested, authorities said. She was taken into custody on suspicion of discharging a firearm in public, brandishing a gun in a threatening manner and using a controlled substance. She was booked into the Ventura County Jail on $100,000 bail.

California 33, the main artery through Oak View, was shut down during the confrontation, sending a sea of cars through small neighborhood streets. Sheriff's officials said the shutdown and the large number of SWAT team members were necessary precautions.

"We definitely needed to close the road for safety reasons, and this was a normal call-out of officers," Garrett said.

The motel's owners and others were evacuated after police arrived, Garrett said. A nearby gas station was also closed down during the standoff.

The motel's owner, Nita Patel, said the woman had checked in that morning and didn't seem particularly on edge.

Lewis has lived at her Oak View home for about 15 years with her husband, Kenneth, and two sons, both in their 20s, neighbors said. Her mother had recently moved to Idaho, but Lewis didn't appear depressed, neighbor Lorraine Brubaker said.

"If anything, she's just a busy, hard-working woman," Brubaker said. "She just told me things were going well in her business. I'm shocked."

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