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Barricaded San Rafael Shooting Suspect Forces I-580 Closure

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A San Rafael police standoff creates a traffic backup entering Marin County from the Richmond Bridge (CBS)

A San Rafael police standoff creates a traffic backup entering Marin County from the Richmond Bridge (CBS)

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.)

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