A housesitter took a burglary suspect into custody Thursday morning in central Fresno after he tricked the suspect into thinking he had a handgun, police reported.
The incident happened about 11 a.m. at a home in the 1100 block of West University Avenue, near McKinley and West avenues. Raymond Melendez told officers that he was taking care of a friend’s home in the neighborhood. He was at his own house when he received a call that there was an intruder who had tripped a motion detector in the friend’s home. Melendez drove over to the house, arriving about five minutes later.
Moments later, police received a report that someone had a suspect in custody in the house. Lt. Joe Gomez said officers arrived and took Westley Keith Shelton, 19, into custody. Shelton had reportedly kicked in the front door.
Melendez said that when he arrived at the house, he went to the back door, where he noticed items from the house were stacked nearby. He thought it odd because they had not been there the last time he checked the home. When he went inside, he saw that the refrigerator was open and food was piled next to the appliance. Then, he heard noises.
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“Who’s here?” Melendez shouted. “I got a gun on my back and you better come out or I’m gonna shoot you!”
In fact, he had no firearm, but the ruse worked. Melendez said the suspect came into view and went to the ground as ordered.
“I had my hand on my back all this time,” Melendez said. “I didn’t want him to think I didn’t have a weapon. It’s the first arrest I’ve ever done.”
Gomez said Shelton has a recent arrest history of auto theft, resisting arrest, brandishing a weapon and being under the influence of a controlled substance. He said the tactic of a citizen bluffing that he has a weapon “is really not recommended, because a burglar could be armed, too, and could be violent.
“But it worked out in this case.”