The man Phoenix police wanted behind bars more than any other told his associates he was willing to shoot it out with police if they tried to arrest him, but police say that a concerted and precise operation prevented him from carrying out his wish during his arrest Sunday night.
Angel Padilla, a 35-year-old ex-convict with a violent past and ties to gangs, gave up after Phoenix police SWAT members stormed a house near 91st Avenue and Palm Lane about 6 p.m. Sunday.
"We heard first the boom," said neighbor Jesse Henson talking about the SWAT team who had to knock down a cinder block wall to get to the backside of the home. "The policeman said you would be safer to stay in the house and shut the door," he said.
Henson said there were always "strange cars all day, all night."
Police said they worked hundreds of tips to find Padilla there. Both adults and children were inside and are believed to be unrelated at this point.
"We were able to get them out of the house. Mr. Padilla remained in the basement for a very short period of time, started to come out the back and when he realized we were in the backyard, he gave up without incident," said T.J. Martin with the Phoenix Police Tactical Support Bureau.
Padilla had fired on a Phoenix police officer after violently kidnapping his ex-wife on Oct. 13, according to Sgt. Steve Martos. The officer was not injured. [RELATED: Suspect held on charges in officer-involved shooting]
Martos credited teamwork between the various units of the police department and help from the community, especially the Silent Witness program, in helping corral Padilla. "There were countless hours dedicated to getting this violent felon off the streets," Martos said. "We are a much safer community."
"We have been very dedicated to protect the community and bring him to justice," said Assistant Chief Joe Yahner.
Officials said Padilla had served time in prison for a manslaughter charge and was believed to have joined a prison gang with affiliations in Phoenix. He used those affiliations to avoid his arrest, moving from among various motels, hotels, acquaintances and friends over the past 36 days.
Officials said more arrests could come from helping and harboring Padilla.
They said Padilla had lived in the neighborhood where he was arrested since he was a child.
Padilla is also a strong suspect in a series of other crimes in Phoenix since firing at the officer, including a home invasion in which one person was brutally beaten and later died.
Martin said investigators had exhaustively been looking for Padilla over the last five weeks. He said officers pored over hundreds of leads and that an additional 30 people had been arrested on unrelated crimes because of the breadth of the investigation.
Martin said officers had the front and back doors of the residence covered and when Padilla found no way out the back door, he gave up.
Martos said a gun was found in the house. Padilla allegedly fired an assault-style rifle at the police officer Oct. 13.
Police said Padilla was most likely in the Phoenix area the entire time based on tips and information police uncovered.
Martos said Padilla was not cooperating with police, but that he looked "defeated, exhausted and wanted to get over with."
Padilla is charged with weapons possession, attempted murder and aggravated assault.
Police said on Monday that more charges are expected.
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