DE LUZ: Deputies shoot man, ending hours-long, hostage-related standoff

DE LUZ — A man who officials allege was armed with a gun and holding family members against their will was shot during an hours-long standoff with officials, Thursday, Jan. 4. The standoff and officer involved shooting happened at a 20-acre property on the 47400 block of Sandia Creek Drive in the unincorporated community of De Luz.

Deputies from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Southwest Station received a report of a family disturbance from a residence about 4 p.m., Riverside Sheriff’s Sergeant Chris Willison explained after the incident.

When deputies arrived at the location they learned a man, later identified as Robert Utley, 59, of De Luz, was armed with a firearm and had threatened to harm family members while holding them against their will inside the residence.

At some point during the incident, several family members managed to flee from the home and and called 911 to report the incident.

Deputies attempted to contact Utley inside a guest house located on the large property, “but he refused to talk with deputies and threatened to cause harm to anyone who attempted to approach the residence,” said Willison.

Because Utley was armed and refused to answer or cooperate with law enforcement deputies at the scene, officials summoned the Sheriff’s SWAT and Crisis Negotiation Teams to the scene at which time SWAT and CNT members responded and assumed the investigation.

SWAT Team members managed to safely rescue and evacuate the occupants of the guest house and moved them to a safe location away from the property. SWAT members continued trying to communicate with Utley and attempted to have him surrender.

Despite “multiple attempts” to contact the alleged suspect, Utley refused and continued to make threats to harm anyone who approached the residence and he refused to exit peacefully, according to Willison.

As the standoff continued,  SWAT members ended up confronting Utley, who was reportedly still in possession of a firearm and a deputy involved shooting occurred, said Willison.

Medical personnel, who were already standing by at the scene, provided medical aid and treatment for Utley’s injuries before transporting him to a local area hospital for further evaluation and treatment. Utley was later admitted to the hospital.

No other citizens or deputies were injured during the initial incident or officer involved shooting.

Based on the circumstances, investigators from the Southwest Station and Sheriff’s Central Homicide Unit responded and took over the shooting investigation.

“Once (Utley) is released he will be booked into the Cois M. Byrd Detention Center, in the city of Murrieta, for false imprisonment, criminal threats, and other related charges,” said Willision.

The deputy involved in the shooting, who has not been identified, was placed on administrative leave per Department policy.

The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department encourages anyone with information regarding the incident to contact Central Homicide Unit Investigator Higgins at (951) 955-2777. Callers can refer to incident file number SW180040040 and can remain anonymous. Citizens may also submit a tip using the Sheriff’s Homicide Tipline online form.

 

Contact the writer: trevor.rcns@gmail.com

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Trevor Montgomery, who recently moved from Riverside County to Shasta County, runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes for Riverside County based newspapers Valley News, The Valley Chronicle and Anza Valley Outlook as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident.

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations, including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center and Lake Elsinore Station, along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 27 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and has 13 children and 14 grandchildren.

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