SALT LAKE CITY — A documented gang member accused of holding a 99-year-old woman hostage was charged Wednesday with numerous felonies.
Freddy Alexander Velasquez, 18, of South Salt Lake, was charged in 3rd District Court with aggravated burglary and two counts of aggravated robbery, first-degree felonies; two counts of possession of a dangerous weapon by a restricted person and threat of terrorism, both second-degree felonies; discharge of a firearm, aggravated assault and aggravated theft, all third-degree felonies; failing to stop for law enforcement, a class A misdemeanor; and assault, a class B misdemeanor.
On Feb. 23, the Metro Gang Unit was looking for Velasquez, who was wanted on warrants, and spotted him outside a hotel at 3440 S. Decker Lake Drive. This came after officers had earlier responded to reports of a shooting at a Magna house near 2600 S. Melville Ave. (8040 West).
As officers chased Velasquez at the hotel, he ran while holding a gun in his hand, according to charging documents.
He ran to 3533 S. 2200 West where he fired a round into the back patio door to gain entry, the charges state.
Once inside, Velasquez was confronted by one of the occupants of the home and pointed a gun at the homeowner and threatened to kill him if he didn't give him his car keys, court documents state. That man and another woman managed to safely run out the front door, the charges state.
Velasquez then entered the room of Doris Wasden, who recently turned 100 and is unable to move without the assistance of a walker or another person, the charges state. He "grabbed her by the arms and pulled her to the ground" and demanded her car keys, according to court documents.
For the next four hours, a SWAT team surrounded the house as a hostage negotiator attempted to get Velasquez to release the elderly woman. During that time, "Velasquez told the negotiators that he had an explosive device, specifically a grenade which he threatened to use," according to charging documents.
Eventually he agreed to let Wasden go. Family members said she suffered some bruises during the frightening ordeal, but otherwise held her own — at one point warning the intruder to stop messing up her clean house.
About 30 minutes later, Velasquez opened the garage door and attempted to drive away in one of the homeowner's vehicles, the charges state. Police quickly surrounded the vehicle and took him into custody. Police recovered a handgun and bulletproof vest from the vehicle, the charges state.
Despite only being 18, prosecutors noted in court documents that Velasquez was on probation with Adult Probation and Parole at the time and "has a violent criminal history," charging documents state,1 comment on this story
In September, Velasquez pleaded guilty in adult court to assault by a prisoner, a second-degree felony, after he attacked a fellow inmate at the Mill Creek Youth Detention Center in Ogden. Surveillance video shows Velasquez attacking a boy with what looked like a phone book before two others attacked the same boy with other objects, according to charging documents.
A judge ordered Velasquez to serve 240 days in jail, but he walked away from a Weber County Jail community service crew on Nov. 28, according to court records. An arrest warrant was issued and he was later charged with escape from custody, a third-degree felony.
A couple of days after Velasquez was arrested, Unified police officers returned to Wasden's house to help her celebrate her 100th birthday.