SWAT incident on January 10, 2001

This is a story of the day that a SWAT team came to visit our otherwise-peaceful neighborhood in Altadena, California. Text below is my description. The Pasadena Star News also reported the story.

All morning, starting around 9:00am, three or more police cars remained parked in front of our house. Every hour or so, they would make loud speaker announcements towards the house across the street asking the occupant to come out and surrender himself, or to call 911 and talk to a deputy. No one came out. Later in the morning, a K-9 unit showed up. By 2:30pm, two officers asked me to please evacuate the house as a SWAT team was about to go in and they were just waiting for me to leave. So I left for Caltech, leaving behind me an armored vehicle with about 8 guys in helmets and bullet proof vests crouching behind it; a K-9 unit; and about 10 cop cars on my street (Aralia Rd) and another 3 on Canyon Crest, the other side of the block. As I drove down Lincoln, I passed a truck (which from a distance resembled an abulance) with blue lights flashing, and about 5 unmarked black cop cars also flashing their blues, all heading towards my neighborhood.

The two officers who had asked me to evacuate told me the operation would be over in about an hour; reality showed that to be more like five hours. They also requested that I leave the front door unlocked in case they "need" to take cover there, and promised to lock it when they left. Now, you would think they'd have the courtesy to leave the house as they found it, right? At least I (perhaps naively) did. However, we came home to dark muddy footprints on the carpet and a muddied towel hanging over a chair. No note of apology. No promise to come back and clean up. I called them, upset more at the rudeness than anything. They've been quite nice since and drove up to the house to bring a short claim form to fill out. So it looks like they'll reimburse us for the damages without too much trouble. I hope. We'll see.

The Pasadena Star News story explained that after all that, it turned out that the man they were looking for never came out of the house because he wasn't there. No one was there. The lady who lives there (the suspect's mother) will come home to the messy aftermath of eight tear gas canisters, a K-9, and a small flock of SWAT team members who'd been standing in the rain for hours. © Anna Mitros
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