FREMONT (CBS SF) — Area residents on Friday described the harrowing Fremont standoff with a gunman who allegedly shot two police officers that ended with the house burning down and the gunman dead.
The shooting Wednesday afternoon and subsequent manhunt for the suspect gripped the neighborhood in fear until the fatal fire started by a tear gas grenade brought the crime spree to a grim close Thursday morning.READ MORE: 15-Year-Olds Wounded In Windsor Shooting Near Michael Hill Park
One resident told KPIX 5 the only source of information she had during the ordeal was watching the news.
“It was like gunfire going off like a warzone,” said Melissa Hershberger, who lives near burned home
For hours, Hershberger saw, heard and tried to hide from the chaos outside.
“I’m trying to make sure all my doors and windows are locked,” said Hershberger.
She locked herself, daughter and baby granddaughter in a room. All of them laid on the ground, afraid of not only bullets but the suspect on the loose.
“It was terrifying,” said Hershberger. “I didn’t know if he was going to try and break into our house. Nobody knew where he was at that time.”
Then a few hours after hearing the gunfire in her own backyard, she heard a sudden, crashing sound.READ MORE: Apple: Blindsided, Handcuffed By Trump Administration Demand For Swalwell Data
“I didn’t know if it was him, if it was them, you know, breaking our fence down in the back,” remembered Hershberger. “I could hear the boards breaking.”
That was when she saw SWAT team break into her backyard where they huddled for a while before breaking down another fence to eventually get to the home where Gerald Villabrille would later be found dead the next morning.
“That was terrifying when the house caught on fire. I saw the flames immediately,” said Hershberger. “After, when it caught on fire and they [the flames] got bigger and bigger and bigger.”
The home was destroyed by the fire sparked by tear gas police used to try and coax out Villabrille.
“I don’t know if it could’ve been any other outcome you know,” said Hershberger.
Hershberger, who heard the gunfire that hit and injured an officer, is left like so many to recover from a criminal’s violent crime spree.
“The fact that he was just willing to shoot two police officers…if he would do that, he would shoot anybody,” said Hershberger. “He was completely out of his mind 49 you know to do something like that my thoughts and prayers are with the officers.”MORE NEWS: COVID Recovery: BART Increases Saturday Service; Weekend Use On The Rebound
The two injured officers remain hospitalized in San Jose, one in stable condition and improving, the other in far graver critical condition.