Hiding in plain sight

Police call it an “agency assist” when one department comes to the assistance of another, as happened in Sonoma on Feb. 22, after the Rohnert Park Police Department asked Sonoma police for help locating a suspect in a domestic assault case.

The Rohnert Park authorities had information that the man lived at the Moon Valley mobile home park off Fifth Street West, and that he was believed to be employed there as a maintenance worker as well. They explained he was wanted for assaulting his girlfriend.

When Sonoma officers arrived at the park, they got no response at the address given as his residence, but a neighbor informed them that, while the man no longer lived at the address, he was still employed by the park and, in fact, had just driven in and was probably at the maintenance structure at the back of the property.

Police found the truck, as directed, with the hood still warm. But when they knocked on the door and called the suspect’s name, no one answered.

One officer walked around the structure, peered in a window and saw the suspect watching the waiting officers on a closed-circuit TV system.

Officers called out to him again, so the man moved behind a curtain out of the field of view, but for his feet.

At which point an officer shouted, “Ron, I can see your white tennis shoes.” The suspect then backed further out of sight.

Officers then called for back-up and the K-9 unit, set a perimeter around the building and announced their intention to enter the building with the dog and search it.

The man did not answer, but officers heard the noise of something breaking. They entered the building and the dog promptly alerted them to a hole in the sheetrock that gave access to the attic, where they easily spotted the suspect hiding.

Ronald Cooper, 35, of Rohnert Park, was arrested without incident and booked into the Sonoma County jail, charged with felony domestic violence, felony false imprisonment and misdemeanor child endangerment.

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