The Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office said that a Sheriff’s Department SWAT team member was justified in fatally shooting a career criminal who broke into an Olivero Road and held children hostage last June.
Jose Jesus Astorga Jr., 37, of Modesto, was fatally gunned down on June 6, 2019 after deputies surrounded the home in the 200 block of Olivero Road. He had an extensive criminal history and was wanted on a no-bail felony warrant for auto theft, possession of a stolen vehicle, and resisting arrest.
Deputies responded to a 1:43 p.m. call about a suspect, armed with a shotgun, had entered the home. They learned that two girls, aged 12 and 17, and a 14-year-old boy were inside but the girls had escaped to safety. The 17-year-old female hostage told deputies that the man appeared to be under the influence of drugs. Astorga could be heard by the SWAT team members stationed outside the house uttering paranoid statements.
Over several hours unsuccessful attempts were made in English and Spanish by the Sheriff’s Department SWAT and hostage negotiation teams to encourage Astorga to surrender.
During the standoff the 14-year-old boy made his way to a window and attempt to climb out. He was having difficulty slipping through the window opening because Astorga had covered his head with material and a jacket. In his last moments alive, Astorga could be seen attempting to pull the boy back into the house. Several SWAT team members raced to the window and tried to pull the boy out of Astorga’s clutches. The boy later said, if he was pulled back in he would “not have lived.” Based on the need to neutralize the threat and allow the boy to be rescued, SWAT team member Deputy Fernando Gomez shot and killed Astorga.
The DA’s report concluded that Astorga was armed and dangerous and that it was reasonable to believe that Astorga, although not holding his weapon at the time of the struggle, would have shot and killed the child and needed to be stopped.