Cops find charred body in CA home after standoff

By Tracie Cone

Associated Press

Published: Friday, April 13 2012 4:42 p.m. MDT

MODESTO, Calif. — Police found a body Friday inside a fire-gutted California home where a suspect had barricaded himself after a deputy and a civilian were shot and killed.

The body was found in the rubble left by a raging fire that broke out overnight, Modesto police spokesman Officer Chris Adams said.

The fire erupted during a daylong standoff with a man who police say opened fire as authorities tried to serve an eviction notice.

Adams said it will take days or weeks to identify the charred body. Police had waited for clearance from fire officials before entering.

At one point during the standoff, police broke the windows of the apartment with bean bag shots and fired flash-bang grenades and tear gas. Authorities evacuated nearby residents in the development of freestanding buildings, each divided into four apartments.

It was not clear how the fire began, but the Modesto Bee reported the sheriff has acknowledged flash-bang devices and tear gas could have been responsible. Adams did not provide details of damage to the building.

Around 9 p.m., six officers rushed toward the apartment, the Bee reported. Sharp bangs from concussive devices were heard for more than an hour, and officers used loudspeakers to communicate with the man to pick up the phone. No one came out.

As police shot the flash-bang grenades, they could see the apartment lights being turned on and off, confirming someone was inside, Adams said.

Television footage later showed flames pouring from the top of a building. Two hours later, fire officials said there were signs that the structure was collapsing.

Officials identified the deputy killed as Robert Paris, 53, and the civilian as Glendon David Engert, 35, of Modesto.

Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson called the incident "another dark day" for law enforcement in California.

"One of my valued members of my team is dead," a distraught Christianson told reporters. "I am overwhelmingly frustrated that we don't have the sufficient resources to protect the community."

Rihanna Brookshire, who lives next door from the shooting scene, said her children had just gone outside to play when the shooting began. Just as they came back into the house and shut the door, they heard a loud bang.

"I thought it was a backfire. We looked outside. My daughter saw a police officer dead on the ground. She said, 'Mommy, there's blood everywhere,'" said Brookshire, who was among the residents still evacuated Friday from about 100 units in the surrounding area.

Brookshire said she occasionally saw the man who lived in the apartment outside but didn't know him.

Christianson believed his deputies did not return fire.

Paris was a 16-year veteran of the department. He is survived by his parents, a brother and two adult children.

Authorities have not discussed any details about Engert and what role he had in the eviction.

Authorities told the Bee the suspect is in his mid-40s and may have had military training.

Jonathon Mullinix, 20, a neighbor who lived two doors down from the apartment where the shooting took place, said the man who lived there was reserved and often kept to himself.

He told Mullinix he worked for a private security company and had a couple of handguns, rifles and shotguns. Mullinix said the man also had at least six security cameras pointing out various windows of his house.

"It was a shock," Mullinix said. "He didn't seem like this kind of person at all. He seemed like someone who wanted to be left alone."

Associated Press writers Terry Collins and Garance Burke in San Francisco and researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York contributed to this report.

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