West side Sonoma residents were awakened early Thursday morning by a helicopter search, complete with spotlight, ranging over their neighborhoods.

A report from the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office explained that a young man in custody had managed to escape his confinement in a patrol car and disappear into the night.

At about 12:30 a.m., deputies from the Sonoma Police Department were dispatched to a disturbance call at the Chevron gas station in the 500 block of West Napa Street. When responding deputies located Dominic Gates, a 21-year-old Sonoma resident, he was determined to be “so intoxicated he was unable to care for his own safety,” according to Sgt. Spencer Crum.

He was arrested for public intoxication.                                             

A deputy transported him to the Sonoma Valley substation for pre-booking and rolled down the windows to the rear seat. When the deputy went inside the substation briefly to get paperwork, he heard the patrol car door shut. The deputy ran outside to see Gates jumping the fence to escape the secured parking lot.

The deputy later realized that Gates had managed to slip his handcuffs to the front of his body, slip his skinny arms through the bars on the patrol car windows, and unlatch the door to let himself out of the car.

By the time the deputy got out of the lot in pursuit, he saw Gates jumping fences through the neighborhood. Deputies secured a perimeter in the neighborhood and called out the Sheriff’s helicopter, which patrolled the El Verano and west Sonoma neighborhoods looking for the escapee.

After a thorough search of the neighborhood and contacting relatives in the area, the deputies called off the search.

At about 6:45 a.m. on Thursday morning, Gates returned to the Sonoma Valley substation and turned himself in, still with the handcuffs on.

Gates was booked for public intoxication and escape from custody, and taken to the county jail where he was held on $2,500 bail.