Big Brother Police State Error Paralyzes Neighborhood
Mistake In License Plate Number Leads To SWAT Standoff
NBC News | July 8, 2005
SAN DIEGO -- Acting on a piece of misinformation, a heavily armed SWAT team surrounded an apartment complex in North Park, NBC 7/39 reported.
The standoff began early Friday after police from Fontana in San Bernardino County told San Diego police that they had traced a gunman who robbed a gas station there to an address in the 3300 block of 30th Street, near Upas Avenue.
"They have great surveillance cameras," San Diego police Detective Gary Hassen said. "Apparently, when the vehicle was leaving, the security camera caught the car and had the license plate, and that's how Fontana contacted us."
Officers were sent to the address listed on the car registration. They found the car parked several blocks away, and when they went to the apartment, one of the officers saw what he believed was movement inside.
Heavily armed SWAT officers arrived in the neighborhood at about 7 a.m. They immediately set up a perimeter and began evacuating residents in nearby apartments and homes. All attempts to contact the suspect were unsuccessful.
Shortly after 10 a.m., Fontana police contacted San Diego authorities. They said that a closer examination of the surveillance video showed that the license plate number they had used to identify the suspect was off by one digit, and the car was not actually registered to a San Diego address. At that point, officers approached the apartment they had surrounded and determined that nobody was home.