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Tustin standoff ends with voluntary surrender

August 11, 2010 12:52:41 AM PDT
A standoff with the SWAT team ends when a man surrendered peacefully at about 1:30 p.m. Wednesday. It all started 11 hours earlier when a tow-truck driver tried repossess his car.Friends of the man say this incident was a sign of the times: The man had lost his job, he was about to lose his house, and when the repo man showed up early Wednesday to take his car, that appeared to be his breaking point.

For 11 hours, Bernard Veldhutzen kept authorities wondering what he'll do next.

The 46-year-old barricaded himself in his home in Tustin near Norwood Park Place and Prospect Avenue, at times throwing papers out of a window as the SWAT team closely watched.

At one point Veldhutzen left the house to retrieve a laptop computer that he dropped in the front yard, then went back inside.

"Everybody's got their breaking points," said Veldhutzen's friend Christy Snow.

Eviction notices were pasted on the front door. Friends said he's rented the home for several years.

"Times are tough. He was in real estate. He's been doing odd jobs or different things to make ends meet," said friend Dan Snow. "His roommate moved out a couple months ago."

At 2:45 a.m. Wednesday, a tow-truck driver arrived to repossess Veldhutzen's car. Veldhutzen was in the middle of moving out of the house.

"He did rent a U-Haul truck, and as his vehicle was about to be towed away, he rammed the tow vehicle with the U-Haul truck" said Orange County Sheriff's Dept. spokesman Jim Amormino.

Authorities say Veldhutzen then refused to surrender.

Veldhutzen's friends started gathering on the other side of the yellow tape. They call Veldhutzen "Father Bernie" for his kindness to others.

"Such a good guy. He'd give you his eyeteeth. If you needed help he'd be there for you, no matter what," said Dan Snow.

Friends say they wished they would have stepped in sooner to help.

"We need to watch our neighbors, we need to watch our friends and we need to make sure that this does not happen again to anybody else," said Snow.

Authorities say Veldhutzen was arrested several weeks ago in an unrelated case, accused of making terrorist threats and brandishing a weapon.

After negotiators repeatedly asked him over several hours Wednesday to give up voluntarily, Veldhutzen surrendered as his friends cheered.

"Total, absolute, complete relief," said Snow. "Thank God."

Authorities were relieved at the outcome and that no one was injured. Veldhutzen is facing a charge of felony vandalism after he allegedly rammed the tow truck. The tow-truck driver was not in the vehicle when it was rammed.


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