By Steve Large

LATHROP (CBS13) — A search for a burglary suspect in a small Lathrop community turned deadly after the suspect tried to make a getaway in a delta waterway and drowned.

Investigators descended on the Islander Mobile Home Park near Walt Hall Slough Wednesday afternoon, where the suspect’s body was recovered by search crews.

San Joaquin County Sheriff’s deputies and investigators with the District Attorney’s Office converged on the scene to conduct a protocol investigation following the death.

People who live at the mobile home park got an up-close look at the investigation playing out in their front yard.

“I didn’t know what to think when I got home. I didn’t know what was going on,” Rich Graves said.

“It’s getting more and more scary,” Ron Murphy said.

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Deputies launched a multi-agency protocol investigation after they say a burglary suspect they were searching for was spotted nearby and took them on a chase, trying to make a getaway by jumping into the water.

Pam Johst was fishing in the slough and says she watched the suspect first running from deputies, then jumping into the water.

“He was swimming good at first,” Johst said.

Johst said she heard deputies call to the suspect to come to the shore or they would send in K-9s. She says the suspect swam even further out, then she lost sight of him.

His body was later discovered by search and rescue crews. The death during a deputy chase triggered the San Joaquin County protocol investigation.

“It’s to determine whether something was done wrong or everything was done right,” San Joaquin County Deputy Andrea Lopez said. “In this case, we had a suspect flee from the detectives. The detectives gave the verbal commands to get out of the water, and they chose not to comply.”

The San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office has not released the suspect’s identity because his next of kin as not been notified. They describe him as a white male in his 20s.


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