San Rafael Standoff Ends; Gunman Dead, Hostage OK

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.

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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.)

  • Dave

    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 offices 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?

    • Austin

      Alas, our police have become nothing more than overdressed meter maids and our courts merely cashiers. Too busy collecting revenue on minor infractions than to actually defend us against real criminals.

    • Trinacria


      Awfully high expectations for a police force that was kept at bay for 24+ hours by A STONER WITH A GUN, despite the availability of armored vehicles and a fully equipped SWAT team, Public “servants”, indeed…

  • kc

    Dave couldn’t agree more and they could have diverted traffic to the Sir Francis Drake exit right away! People could have gone to Drake to 101 North or South in Larkspur or they could have diverted them to Anderson at the top of the Drake Exit and that would drop them into San Rafael.
    And for people to run out of gas, well, that’s just stupidity on their part. I mean, the road is closed, you aren’t going any where.. TURN OFF your engine.

  • adam

    The girlfriend is DEAD! Flashbang the room and take out the threat! Save the money to trail the low life!

  • Joshua Johnston

    Dave and Trinacria you are both jerks. Officers are out there at risk of getting shot and you are complaining about how they handle the situation as if you know more. You do NOT.

    • Dave

      Joshua, No officers risked being shot. No officers risked making an intelligent decision or coming up with a plan to resolve the standoff. If the guy hadn’t shot himself, the police would probably still be hiding behind their cars wringing their hands and wondering what they should do. What a bunch of undertrained and under-motivated morons.

      • Devery

        You all talk like you know anything about being a policeman and the restrictions placed on them by all of you liberal fools. If they shoot someone who’s running away with a gun people protest, it an accident happens when they are trying to do something you all whine. Walk just an hour in the shoes of one of our police these days and you may have a better perspective of what it’s like to try tp portect and serve a bunch of liberal jerks.

    • Trinacria

      A predictable retort from someone with the name “Joshua”. Really, sport, grow a pair.

      • Kevin Wallis

        so do tell who cut yours off?

  • Vicki

    What I want to know is who is paying all these salaries. Guess who ??Us I understand about the hostage situation but this is rediculas, Why do we need sf officers here. COME ON ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!! I Are all the officers out of tear gas. Take him out Please

  • shana

    HE TOOK HIMSELF OUT THE COWARDLY WAY!!!!This guy caused a lot of havoc and traffic for two days. I thought he was going to committ suicide enventually…..If this was Richmond or Oakland this would have never lasted two days, what a waste of time. Apparently the guy had two strikes and he didn’t want to become someone’s fairy in prison.

  • All4one-one4all

    Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) is a curriculum that teaches law inforcement agencies how to end these situations without loss of life. When you have the SWAT Team standing by – with people who have been trained to kill – people die. This y oung man had to have deep mental/emotional problems to have gotten himself into this jam. He likely had a mother, a father, siblings and people who are grieving terribly right now. He did not have to die.

  • iswhatitis

    Hey Vicki, if that’s how you spell ridiculous, I doubt you have a job to get taxed , so don’t worry about any salaries. If you’re so worried about the miniscule amount of taxes you probably aren’t payinganywa, at least we all don’t have to pay for the gunman’s next 30 years of incarceration.. Try leaving hostage situations to the experts.

    • Kevin Wallis

      hummm so your the spelling police? Please tell me about this part of your post. “payinganywa” hahaha too funny

    • Vicki

      Look I have worked and paid taxes all my life and this county you dont pay so called miniscule taxes get off the couch and look at the world passing you by.
      Im married to an expert so now what

  • Mark

    I don’t know why the cops wasted so much time beating around the bush. They knew what room this tool was in. They should have assembled a SWAT team outfitted with night vision goggles. Then as soon as it was dark they should have cut off the electricity, depriving him of light, and made entry with the key and taken the trash out with a couple of shots a la Bin Laden. Why didn’t the “experts” think of this?

  • urolizzard

    The Reason ? The Liberals in the area with there high powered thinking hats on would find a way to blame law enforcement whatever action they take. If Justice were served by the swat team. The Swat Team members would have there home addresses posted on the internet put on trial called cold blooded killers. The Family of departed excrement would then get a settlement from a liberal judge some where in Marin county to pay the family millions of dollars for loss of life. This way no riots no exposure of the officers families or to Marin County Tax Payers.

    You See there are consequences of Liberal Thinking which has now invaded both political parties our legal system and spreading though out the world.

    • andoy


  • shufflebutt

    A union shufflebutt is a union shufflebutt; no matter the uniform. Useless idiots.

  • Kevin Wallis

    i think the outcome is great. no one to sent to jail and waste our money. Im guessing your next?

  • Suzanne

    Why did the clerks run out after him for trying to shoplift some freak’n twinkies or whatever he was trying to steal? I worked in retail and I was told you never run out of the store to catch a shoplifter. I can only assume, by his reaction, that he felt like a trapped animal trying to get away. He obviously wasn’t thinking clearly because he was wanted on drug charges-mayne under the influence at the time? I’m not saying anyone is right or wrong here but it feels like the situation went out of control and was blown out of proportion.

    • Terah

      Don’t make assumptions about what happened at United Markets if you were not there or if you don’t know anyone who works there. You can’t fully believe the stories you hear. Thanks.

  • Superdave

    Really Joey? A criminal took his own life after 30 hrs paid by the taxpayers and thats all you have to say? Blame the cop?. I hope somedat the you NEVER need help.

  • Superdave

    Thank You Urolizzard. Well spoken.

  • KatyWhozit

    It’s interesting how he was “charged with” certain crimes. The police are known to throw the kitchen sink into the charging sheet when a person is arrested in hopes that the DA will find something there that will stick. But nonetheless, these “charges,” even if dismissed a day later, will remain on a person’s record for a lifetime, without conviction, and are viewed by employers and such as though they were actual convictions..

  • andoy

    those who are criticizing the police for overreacting are idiots. if the gunman did shoot outside and a person you know got injured, you would think otherwise.

  • Turtle

    Pete was an old friend of mine and my daughter. They should rehabilitate these people when they committ they’re first crimes. He was a smalltime criminal with mental issues that were never addresed or treated. When he was clean he was a totally loving and completely a different person. Oh and by the way his girlfriend was never a hostage, why do you think she just didn’t leave after he killed himself. Pete never killed nobody, just himself. I hope your tormented sole is finally at rest my sick friend. Love Turtle

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