VALLEJO – The FBI raided an apartment building in central Vallejo this morning, searching three apartments and arresting at least one man.
The agents arrived at around 7 a.m. at the building at 710 Ohio St., near Sonoma Boulevard, with an armored vehicle. Approximately 12 men and women with assault rifles and tactical gear, including officers from the Solano County Sheriff's Office and Vallejo police, stood outside the apartment building. The officers gave orders over a megaphone for occupants to exit the building, said Andy Houston, a neighbor on the opposite side of the street.
“Agents repeated the order three times,” said Houston. “Some people came out and then I heard three loud noises like a concussion grenade with smoke.”
Houston said that he had made complaints to Vallejo police about frequent activity and double parking across the street and that he and other neighbors suspect there was illegal gambling happening in the building.
Another neighbor Mark Johnson said that the man who was arrested is very supportive of the local community and provided funds for three of his children to participate in sports programs.
“They did not say anything about a warrant, they just showed us their guns,” said a woman who goes by Fatty who was visiting a friend at one of the apartments when the raid took place.
She said that the man who was arrested provides shelter and food to people who are homeless. “That’s why so many people came out at first, because he lets people stay there,” she said.
Jim, also a neighbor, said that the activity around the building has increased over the last year and people frequently double park in front of the building.
“There was a community meeting with our councilmember Peter Bregenzer recently and this building was one of the main concerns that neighbors brought up,” Houston said. “When I notify the police about it I get a lot of ‘Well, you know we are short staffed.’ This is the first time that I have seen any action on this.”
Other neighbors said that at least one of the apartments offered a place for people to stay, and that sex workers and others who frequent the area have been able to come in out of the rain and get snacks and play video games.
Officers left the doors to the apartments open when they left the scene, and a row of five computer consoles inside one of the apartments could be seen from the street. Another apartment had some power tools, children’s bikes and other items visible in the entryway.
At one point during the arrest, officers moved across the street with three small children who are residents of the building. An FBI agent said that the reason they moved away from the building was because there was a possible explosion threat.
Sacramento FBI public affairs specialist Gina Swankie said that a court authorized law enforcement action took place at 710 Ohio St. this morning but she is unable to share more information.
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Ryan Geller writes about transitions in food, health, housing, environment, and agriculture. He covers City Hall for the Vallejo Sun.
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