SAN RAFAEL (CBS SF) — Authorities shut down a portion of Interstate 580, which included the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, for much of the day Wednesday, including the evening rush hour, as police dealt with an armed man who barricaded himself inside a hotel room after firing a shot toward the highway.

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san rafael suspect Barricaded San Rafael Shooting Suspect Forces I 580 Closure

A Surveillance image of the suspect wanted in a stabbing at United Market in San Rafael (San Rafael Police Department)

The man, a suspect in a stabbing that occurred at a San Rafael supermarket on Sunday, was holed up – apparently with his girlfriend – in a room at the Extended Stay Hotel at 1775 Francisco Boulevard East, San Rafael police spokeswoman Margo Rohrbacher said.

Police were trying to negotiate with the gunman, whose name had not been released.

“We’re attempting to bring this to a safe resolution,” said Rohrbacher. “No has been injured thus far and we hope to keep it that way.”

The California Highway Patrol at 11 a.m. closed westbound I-580 at Sir Francis Drake Boulevard and were diverting traffic via Sir Francis Drake to US Highway 101. Eastbound 580 was closed at the Highway 101 off-ramp and drivers were being diverted around the area. The closures remained in effect during the evening rush hour.

While limited traffic on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge was allowed to resume for the rush hour, it was at a standstill, nonetheless.

“It’s practically a parking lot,” CHP Officer Marc Johnston said of the bridge. “Cars are traveling less than 10 mph.”

There were reports of some motorists caught in the traffic mess running out of gas, while the CHP also responded to a few minor road rage incidents.

The CHP suggested that motorists use state Highway 37 or the Golden Gate Bridge as alternate routes.

The standoff began after officers went to the hotel room while investigating the supermarket stabbing. The situation escalated when the man barricaded himself and then fired a gunshot from the window of the room.

“The shot that he fired went toward the freeway,” CHP Sgt. Trent Cross said. “Bullets can be unpredictable, so we wanted to be sure no one was harmed while driving by. So we shut down the bridge and the freeway.”

The gunman was the suspect of stabbing a clerk during a shoplifting attempt at United Market at 515 Third Street around 4 p.m. Sunday, Rohrbacher said.

The suspect took groceries from the supermarket and walked out without paying, according to police. The shoplifter was stopped and brought back inside the store, where he was questioned. During the questioning, he threatened an employee and held a knife to the person’s throat, police said.

Police said he ran out of the store and several employees chased him. He unsuccessfully attempted to stab an employee from the meat section, but then stabbed a clerk in the chest. The victim’s injuries were not serious, police said.

The suspect was described as a white man in his 20s, about 5 feet 10 inches tall, weighing 180 pounds with shoulder-length brown hair. He has a visible tattoo on one of his calves and was wearing gray checkered shorts and a brown knit beanie cap.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

Comments (16)
  1. Richard Waibel says:

    He’ll be staying at another “extended stay” just across the strret, San Quentin.

  2. Jsl says:

    What a dirt bag. I work in this area and was subjected to this awful traffic and delays all day. I hope the police really take care of this guy if you know what I mean…

  3. kc says:

    What I still don’t understand is why did they shut down the bridge?? As soon as you come off the bridge in Marin they can detour traffic thru Larkspur, Sir Francis Drake Blvd., to 101 or send traffic at the top of SFD Blvd. onto Anderson Drive to get into San Rafael or to North 101. And for people needing to go E on 580 just go to SFD exit and go that way.
    There was no reason to completely stop traffic when there were easily accessible alternate routes.

    1. mechanic says:

      KC is totally correct on this one. No need at all to close the whole darned bridge!
      These days; I guess everything is an over reaction; or you’ll have the likes of John Burris suing you. Big inconvenience for what used to be a pretty routine thing.(?)

      1. Survival says:

        Oh sure, easy to say but you would be the first to scream at the CHP/Police if someone were shot because the raod was not closed! Ever been to a shooting or to a call where someone is held-up in a building and had access to areas in a firing line. Bet not!! The sheep always scream and the sheep dog untill they need help!!

      2. Survival says:

        Excuse me: “scream at the sheep dog”

  4. poock says:

    Can someone shoot him already, I am sick and tired of all this choppers on top of my house.

    1. Alan says:

      You have the Hells Angels above your house?

  5. LH says:

    Can;t they fire some tear gas through the window and force him out that way?
    It is ridiculous that it has been going on since 11:00 am this morning.

  6. drcid777 says:

    From shoplifting to this.

    Can you say “unnecessary escalation’?

  7. Employees are dumb turds says:

    Why are store employees trying to be hero’s? In actuality they are stupid idiots and could have been killed.

  8. Joe Smo says:

    He’s lucky he is a white guy. Anyone else, and the police would have not been so kind in their negotiations.

  9. Dave says:

    The person responsible for making the decision to close this section of 580 needs to be removed from his job. There was no justification to close the freeway, let alone keep it closed for over twelve hours. If the police were so incompetent that they couldn’t resolve the hostage situation, they should have found a way to shield the room’s view of the freeway and get 580 reopened. With dozens of police and highway patrol officers standing around for more than a dozen hours, why wasn’t there anyone capable of considering the traffic nightmare they created and coming up with a better alternative?

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