SAN ANDREAS (CBS13) – The Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office has identified the suspect accused of taking a hostage and shooting a deputy before being killed by law enforcement in San Andreas last week.
Mark Aitulagi Lavea, 47, of Modesto, was identified as the hostage-taker and had a lengthy criminal history dating back to 1989, authorities said. That history reportedly includes numerous felony and misdemeanor arrests and convictions for crimes including assaults, burglaries, weapons charges, child cruelty, domestic violence, drug-related charges and elder abuse.READ MORE: Cal/OSHA Votes To Drop Workplace Mask Rule For Fully Vaccinated Workers
According to the sheriff’s office, it was investigating, shortly after 10:30 p.m. on May 6, a domestic violence call where it was reported by witnesses that a man was pointing a gun at a woman at the Sierra Inn Motel in San Andreas. Lavea and the victim were both gone when a deputy arrived.
After learning the identity of the two individuals and locating an address for the woman, Deputy Jonathan Brown arrived at the Diamond Place Apartment complex to make sure she was OK, authorities said. The woman was a known subject to the sheriff’s office, but Lavea was not.
While Deputy Brown was interviewing the woman, whose name was being withheld by law enforcement, in the parking lot, several shots were fired with one bullet striking the deputy. The sheriff’s office said Lavea had ambushed the two from the darkness.
Lavea fled from the area and other responding deputies began a search for him while Deputy Brown was able to drive himself to the hospital for treatment.
While the search was underway, Lavea had forcibly entered a 75-year-old disabled woman’s apartment and took her hostage, according to the sheriff’s office. Lavea allegedly stood behind the woman armed with a gun and used her as a human shield as she used a walker to exit her apartment.READ MORE: Patterson Woman, 46, Killed In Crash West Of Modesto
Investigators said the two began walking toward law enforcement officials who were in an elevated parking lot. Differences in elevation, along with metal railings and concrete walls, partially concealed the Lavea and the hostage from law enforcement officials’ perspective.
Lavea, still standing with a gun behind the woman, made it to a concrete stairway near where the deputies were and he tried to force the woman up. At this point, according to the sheriff’s office, a deputy shot Lavea, which caused him to separate from the hostage. Lavea fell, then got back up, and appeared to fire off a shot toward the deputies before being shot again. He then tried to get up one more time but was shot again by deputies.
Lavea was pronounced dead at the scene. Additionally, several of the deputies’ rounds hit nearby metal railings and concrete walls, which ricocheted and sent fragments flying. The sheriff’s office said the hostage was struck by both ricochets and fragments. It is also being investigated whether one of Lavea’s shots struck the hostage.
The handgun found next to Lavea matched the description of the gun used in the original report at the Sierra Inn.
Lavea’s extensive criminal history is 14 pages in length, according to the sheriff’s office. Most recently, he served six years in prison after being convicted of domestic violence. He was also determined to be the subject of multiple past restraining orders.
Aside from Deputy Brown, other involved law enforcement officials included Deputy Michael Jericoff, Deputy Nicholas Riviera, Deputy Mark Silvia, Deputy Brandon Buie, and an Angels Camp police officer.MORE NEWS: More Tree Limbs Drop In Summer — And Drought Isn’t Helping, Experts Say
Deputy Brown had since been released from hospital care.