Hostage suspect faces nine felony charges
The suspect subsequently barricaded himself inside the residence. Sheriff's Crisis Negotiators opened communications with the suspect and spent the next several hours attempting to negotiate a peaceful surrender.
At 2:14 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 14, the suspect, Joseph Adair, 39, of Janesville, surrendered and was taken into custody without incident. He was arrested on a probable cause warrant for kidnapping with $75,000 bail.
“I can tell you it was a long night,” Jackson said.
The Lassen Interagency SWAT Team, comprised of members of both the Lassen County Sheriff's Office and the Susanville Police Department, responded along with members of the California Highway Patrol and the Washoe County Sheriff's Bomb Squad.
The sheriff's office received interagency support resolving the incident and Sheriff Steven Warren thanked the Susanville Police Department, CAL FIRE, Lassen County District Attorney's Office, CHP, The Washoe County Sheriff's Bomb Squad, the Plumas County Sheriff's Office and the Lassen County Sheriff's Chaplains for their assistance.
Fire officials responded to a half-acre fire in the area allegedly started by Adair.
Jackson said he had to tell the firefighters to wait in a staging area on a nearby hill. Responding agencies included CAL FIRE, and firefighting personnel from Janesville, Susan River, the BLM and Lassen National Forest.
Fire agencies waited on a nearby hill while law enforcement personnel handled the hostage situation.
“They couldn’t go up to where the fire was without being in danger of being shot,” Jackson said.
The fire burned up against a corral, Jackson said, and since the predicted wind never picked up, it did not spread. He said a couple of CAL FIRE engines stood by for the duration.
Adair faces four counts of false imprisonment for allegedly taking his wife and three children hostage. Negotiators eventually talked him into releasing his family and they walked away from the house.
The three children include two boys aged 11 and 12 and a 10-year-old girl. Adair also faces three counts of child endangerment.
A count of willful discharge of a firearm in a negligent manner stems from the allegation that Adair fired the assault rifle inside the residence before the SWAT team arrived.
No one was injured in the incident. Jackson said more than 20 law enforcement personnel were on scene, not including the firefighters.
A neighbor complained that the sheriff’s dispatcher would not tell her what was going on, but simply advised her to stay inside her house and stay away from the windows.
Jackson said that was probably the best advice the dispatcher could give, especially if a lone dispatcher was trying to talk to the suspect on another line.
“They can’t specifically tell someone exactly what’s going on because they don’t know yet,” he said. “They only know the call came in as a dangerous situation with a threat perceived. The dispatcher only knew there was a guy threatening someone with a rifle.”
Sheriff’s department personnel cannot release information without permission from a member of the department’s command staff, with the rank of sergeant or greater. Since every situation is different, Jackson said there is no standard protocol.
If deputies can safely evacuate neighbors, they will, he said. But telling someone to jump in the car is not an option until safety is certain.
“They’re survivability is going to be better inside their house,” Jackson said. “The last thing we want to tell them is to get in the car and drive out. What if you drive them right by the suspect?
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