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San Rafael Standoff Ends; Gunman Dead, Hostage OK

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San Rafael standoff

Police SWAT personnel outside a hotel on Francisco Blvd. in San Rafael, August 18, 2011. (CBS)

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SAN RAFAEL (CBS SF) — A man who barricaded himself in a San Rafael hotel room during a marathon police standoff that started early Wednesday morning was found dead in the room Thursday afternoon, police said.

Peter James Thomas, 38, stopped talking to police late Wednesday night, San Rafael police spokeswoman Margo Rohrbacher said. He had been in communication with them throughout the day Wednesday, and then nothing, she said.

The drop in communication prompted police to use cameras to see what was going on inside the room.

They drilled holes through the walls of the room and inserted cameras, and saw Thomas lying motionless on the ground, Rohrbacher said. Officers forced entry into the room and found Thomas dead inside, she said.

His girlfriend was also in the room and was not hurt. Police will interview her to figure out her involvement in the standoff, Rohrbacher said. Her name has not been released.

Rohrbacher said Thomas was wanted by the Marin County Sheriff’s Office on a $70,000 warrant for burglary, weapons and drug violations.

KCBS’ Mark Seelig Reports:

Police went to the Extended Stay Deluxe hotel at 1775 Francisco Blvd. East around 8:30 a.m. Wednesday because they received word that Thomas, who was being sought in connection with a stabbing on Sunday, was staying there.

After officers arrived, Thomas allegedly fired a shot toward I-580 from his window, and the California Highway Patrol shut down the freeway between U.S. Highway 101 and Sir Francis Drake Boulevard around 11:10 a.m. The Richmond-San Rafael Bridge was also initially closed until it was reopened about an hour later.

>>Latest KCBS Traffic Conditions

I-580 remained closed until 1 a.m. Thursday, when a metal sheet was raised by crane over the window of Thomas’ room to block any gunfire, according to police and the CHP.

Police were treading lightly with the gunman because his girlfriend was inside the room with him, Rohrbacher said.

Westbound traffic on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge was at a standstill Wednesday evening, CHP Officer Marc Johnston said.

Some motorists even ran out of gas, and crews had to assist them, he said.

The CHP also responded to a road rage incident related to the congestion that was quickly quelled, Johnston said.

On Wednesday, some hotel guests were told to shelter in place or evacuate, depending on their proximity to the suspect’s room, Rohrbacher said.

Thomas’s criminal record dates back to when he was 20 years old, according to the Marin County District Attorney’s Office.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Barry Borden said Thomas was convicted of a December 1993 robbery, a June 1999 auto theft and another robbery in April 2003, all in San Francisco.

Thomas also collected drug-related convictions, such as possession of controlled substance for sale and possession of a controlled substance in a penal institution in San Mateo County, Borden said.

The Marin County Sheriff’s Office also had a $70,000 warrant for his arrest.

Borden said the Marin County district attorney charged Thomas with burglary, possession of deadly weapons, possession of a firearm by a felon and possession of ammunition by a person convicted of a specified offense for crimes committed on Dec. 17, 2009.

Thomas was also charged with receiving stolen property, two counts of possession of a controlled substance, unauthorized possession of a hypodermic needle or syringe, and possession of a smoking device, according to Borden.

Borden said Thomas spent time in state prison as well.

san rafael suspect San Rafael Standoff Ends; Gunman Dead, Hostage OK

Surveillance image of a man, believed to be Peter James Thomas, wanted in a stabbing at United Market in San Rafael (San Rafael Police Department)

The man is suspected of stabbing a clerk during a shoplifting attempt at United Markets at 515 Third St. around 4 p.m. Sunday, Rohrbacher said.

Police said the suspect took groceries from the supermarket and walked out without paying. 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 employee’s throat, police said.

He then ran out of the store, and when several employees chased him, he stabbed one in the chest, according to police. The victim’s injuries were not serious.

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

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