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Hostage situation ends peacefully in West Jordan

Published: Thursday, Sept. 1 2011 7:12 p.m. MDT

Law enforcement officers work at the scene of a hostage situation at an apartment building in West Jordan Thursday, Sept. 1, 2011.

Brian Nicholson, Deseret News

WEST JORDAN — A man who held a woman hostage at an apartment was taken into custody Thursday following a two-hour standoff.

At one point, the hostage situation included an 18-month-old child. The child was safely removed from the house before the incident was resolved, said West Jordan Police Sgt. Drew Sanders.

Officers were called to the Ridge Apartments at Jordan Landing, 3805 W. 6850 South, about 2:20 p.m. on information received by the state Motor Vehicle Enforcement Division, which was in the area for an unrelated stolen vehicle investigation. MVED spokesman Charlie Roberts said officers were prompted to check on the safety of a woman associated with the man suspected to have stolen the car.

"I saw officers surrounding the house and I was wondering if we were going to be safe out here," said Cersar Mercado, who lives two doors down from where the woman was being held hostage. He and his wife and sister were evacuated from their home for a couple of hours Thursday.

Another neighbor, Lori Melville, was just coming home from work at the time and saw SWAT members carrying the child out of the home. Shortly thereafter, Melville said a woman came out with officers.

"The neighborhood is usually pretty quiet," she said. "Most people are pretty friendly."

Just after 4:30 p.m., police took Angel Balderrama, 35, into custody without further incident. At least one weapon was recovered from inside his apartment.

Balderrama has a history with police, including various cases involving drugs. An outstanding arrest warrant refers to a May 2010 incident in which Balderrama is accused of endangering a child or elderly adult, according to court documents.

Sanders said Thursday's incident was "part of a convoluted drug transaction."

A woman in her 30s, who is not related to the child, reportedly came to the apartment on her own accord and was held hostage, according to Sanders.

"The root cause is narcotics," he said.

Sanders said everyone involved in the incident "is OK now. It's not often that it works out this way." He said the investigation is ongoing and Balderrama could be facing potential aggravated kidnapping and other serious charges.

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