Suspect Calls Reporter in Middle of Standoff - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Suspect Calls Reporter in Middle of Standoff

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RICHLAND, Wash. - While a barricaded suspect told a KNDU reporter he had unloaded weapons in his Richland home Monday night, police actually found 500 rounds of ammunition inside.

After KNDU local news at six wrapped up on Monday, Salvador Gaeta called KNDU reporter Felicia Mattson. It was the only phone call he made to a reporter during a nine hour standoff with police.  Police quickly moved in on the call and the negotiator actually took the phone and started persuading the man to come out of his home.

As Benton County Regional SWAT members surrounded Salvador Gaeta's residence, he made several calls to the reporter.  He said he did not want his family split up and Child Protective Services was taking his three children away based on falsified information.  The calls were spaced out through the evening as negotiators worked to end the stand off peacefully.

Salvador said there were weapons in the home but that he was not going to use them.  He added that his wife Chris was free to leave with the children whenever she wanted to. 

On Tuesday, Chris said she was free to leave and is upset by the word "hostage" used to describe last night's tense hours.

After searching the home, police said Gaeta had a semi- automatic SKS rifle, a hunting rifle and another firearm.  He also had 500 rounds of ammunition inside his home on 1937 Orchard Way in Richland.

"When ever you have a suspect with a history of mental illness and drug use it escalates the situation," said Richland Police Captain Mike Cobb.  

Chris said she's starting from square one to get her children back including the four-year-old and baby that were inside the home. 

Late Monday night into the early Tuesday morning hours Chris and her children left the home followed by Gaeta.

He was booked into the Benton County Jail on a misdemeanor charge and posted $500 bail.

"They could not have ended it better," said Cobb.