Starlite Pines residents were ordered to evacuate their homes early Sunday morning as more than 30 police officers surrounded and eventually arrested a distraught man following a 10-hour standoff, Milpitas Police Department reported.
At 6:33 p.m. Saturday, Milpitas police officers responded to a residence on the 1600 block of Fallen Leaf Drive to investigate a call from an alarm company about a resident who was upset and possibly armed with a rifle inside his home. A computer check revealed the suspect, later identified as 56-year-old Milpitas resident Larry J. Luberto, to be a felon, which prohibits him from possessing firearms, police said.
Milpitas SWAT and the crisis negotiations team responded to assist. Early Sunday morning, police evacuated up to six homes on Fallen Leaf Drive as well as other houses behind Luberto's residence.
Milpitas police Sgt. Raj Maharaj said police opened up the Community Room at Milpitas Police Department headquarters to allow vacated Pines residents a place to stay.
"We shuttled them back and forth to make sure they were safe getting in and out of the area," Maharaj said.
But many residents chose to stay, huddled on the steps of nearby Pearl Zanker Elementary School at 1585 Fallen Leaf Drive.
At 4:34 a.m., after 10 hours and the assistance of three shifts of police personnel totaling about 30 people, police negotiators using telephones persuaded Luberto to exit the residence and peacefully surrender, police said.
No one was injured during the incident.
A 7-mm rifle was eventually recovered from inside the home, police said.
Residents were allowed to return to their homes at approximately 5 a.m.
Luberto, owner of a tile installation business and former Milpitas Rotary Club member, was arrested and booked into the Santa Clara County Main Jail on charges of being a felon in possession of a firearm and resisting and delaying police officers.
Luberto, out of jail this week, said the rifle was in a case under a bed the whole time, and that he did not know he could not possess it.
The longtime resident and local businessman told the Post that he had been drinking and became upset after his girlfriend threatened to leave him because of his intoxication.
He apologized to neighbors inconvenienced by the ordeal.
"I would like to give my sincere apology to everyone involved SaturdayÃnight. I was going through some rough times and was very distraught. Alcohol was involved and that is something that makes me say things I don't mean," Luberto told this newspaper. "I would never harm anyone or myself. I would like to thank the Milpitas police in their efforts in helping me in my time of need. I just want to thank everyone and apologize again for that night. My focus that night was to go to sleep and not go to jail."
Luberto said his previous felony conviction was for a drunken-driving incident 16 years ago in which another person was injured.
On Monday, one neighbor shared her experience Saturday night.
"One thing led to another and the SWAT team showed up," Debee Arm-strong, a 17-year Fallen Leaf Drive resident, said.
Armstrong, who lives next to Luberto's home, said for about two hours police spoke to the man via a bullhorn. At first, authorities ordered residents to remain in their homes.
"They told us to please stay inside and lock your windows and doors," she said. "They did their bullhorn thing until about 9."
During this time, from inside her house, Armstrong overheard police talking to Luberto through an open window.
"They told him that his house was surrounded," Armstrong said.
At approximately 1 a.m. Armstrong said she was awakened by the sounds of a SWAT team moving through her side yard. Police ordered Armstrong and the rest of her neighbors to evacuate.
"They told us we had to move now, we had to go now," she said.
Armstrong, her husband Richard and their two 80-pound golden retrievers piled into their Honda Ridgeline and went to Denny's for six hours.
Armstrong said many residents remained at Pearl Zanker Elementary bundled in clothes they were able to grab on short notice.
"Most of them were standing around with coats and robes on," she said.
Armstrong said she was glad no one was injured, including Luberto, whom she called a "heck of a nice guy."
"I appreciated the police protecting us," she said of the ordeal. "I was tired and a little bit grumpy but I appreciated that the police were out there doing their job."