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Shirtless suspect on East LA roof refuses to come down

January 25, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
A man evading bail bondsmen ran onto the roof of a house in East Los Angeles and refused to come down for hours on Friday. It was, quite literally, a standoff.

Authorities say the incident began in the 5300 block of Grace Place at about 7 a.m. when a bail bondsman came to pick him up for failure to appear in court. Deputies surrounded the house and put a ladder against the roof, but the man, identified as Michael Vargas, did not come down.

Vargas is a convicted felon wanted on an outstanding burglary warrant, the L.A. County Sheriff's Department said.

"We got here, he was in the attic, the whole place was surrounded, and he decided to climb out the vent window and climb onto the roof," said Sheriff's Sgt. T.J. Smith.

The man stood atop a chimney about three stories high, at times shouting. He may have had nowhere to run, but Vargas refused to come down.

For roughly three hours, Vargas was perched on the chimney, shirtless and wearing just dark shorts and white socks. Crowds of people gathered near the scene, some unable to get to their homes, others just to watch, but few surprised by the situation.

"Something like this, him being on the roof, SWAT being in the neighborhood, it's kind of crazy, but everybody here is used to it," said Antoinette Diaz of East L.A.

By 11:30 a.m., Vargas called it quits and climbed down. It was a relief to his mother, Cruz Frias, who was watching from behind police lines.

"I thought maybe he'd jump, or they would shoot him," she said. "I just didn't want my son getting hurt by the police."

The sheriff's department says Vargas is now in custody for the original burglary warrant, as well as on new charges of possession of a firearm and a bulletproof vest.


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