A standoff ensued Tuesday evening and into Wednesday at a Nordstrom Rack in Pleasant Hill after police pursued a wanted rape suspect to the area, and he managed to keep himself hidden in the store for over 12 hours.
Descriptions of the situation were confusing, but the suspect, 26-year-old Joseph Ramos, apparently was driving a stolen car when he ended up at the Sunvalley Mall, which is in Concord on the border of Pleasant Hill, at Golf Club Road and Contra Costa Boulevard. As KRON4 reports, Concord police received word at 5:55 p.m. that Ramos had barricaded himself inside the Nordstrom Rack across the street from the mall — apparently after hours in which he was being pursued by police.
As KTVU reports, Ramos was wanted by the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office on suspicion of rape and domestic violence in a different city. The stolen vehicle was reportedly a gray Dodge Charger with red wall tires.
Police evacuated both a Safeway store and the Nordstrom Rack, and set up a perimeter for hours at the store, using megaphones to try to lure Ramos out.
Pleasant Hill police say avoid area of Nordstrom Rack and Safeway at Sun Valley Mall. @PHillPD The stores have apparently been evacuated. We are working to gather the details. #JUSTIN https://t.co/KvCrjcA6Sq pic.twitter.com/FcqrGBi4s0— KTVU (@KTVU) September 28, 2022
UPDATE: Authorities continue to search for a suspect believed to be barricaded in a Nordstrom Rack store in Pleasant Hill after he crashed during a police chase and fled into the store on foot. https://t.co/ai86rQFNZH pic.twitter.com/aCTrSc2KkF— NBC Bay Area (@nbcbayarea) September 28, 2022
Pleasant Hill Police Captain Scott Vermillion tells KRON4 that police saw video of Ramos changing clothing in the store, and, "Witnesses and information lead us to believe that he went up into the ceiling rafters of the business."
So, they believe Ramos was in a crawl space in the store, and that he changed clothes. It was also never clear whether Ramos was armed.
Per Bay Area News Group, Ramos never responded to any of the crisis negotiators who arrived at the scene.
KRON4 reported via Concord police that "store customers and employees were evacuated" from the Nordstrom Rack, sometime around 7 p.m. or earlier.
But as KTVU reports, confusingly, police believed Ramos was somehow able to escape after they could not find him by Wednesday morning— either blending in with the crowd that left originally, or some other group that left later. Per KTVU, "At around 9:30 p.m., a flash bang was used. It's at this point that the police captain said the suspect might have walked out with the rest of the crowd."
Then, as KTVU subsequently reported, Ramos was arrested behind the store around noon on Wednesday. Police had left the area around 7:30 a.m., but returned, and it seems Ramos had been hiding somewhere in the building the entire time. It's not clear if someone spotted him and alerted police, or if they were still staking out the place.
Incidentally, this shopping center is right next to the Dave & Busters that was the scene of a shooting earlier this year.
*This post has been updated throughout following Ramos's arrest.