A nearly four-hour standoff outside a Eureka house -- that began when a woman called law enforcement to say she had returned home to find her locks changed and believed that her ex-husband was there with access to guns -- ended this afternoon with deputies finding no one inside.
Humboldt County Sheriff's Office Lt. Steve Knight said the events began unfolding at 10:19 a.m. when the call came in. The woman told responding deputies that she was awarded the Prindan Lane home in a divorce settlement, and her ex-husband had recently been evicted.
The sheriff's office said deputies tried her key, which didn't work, and were walking around the home a few blocks from the Sequoia Park Zoo when they heard the sound of an upstairs window closing and a disturbance in an upstairs room.
Surrounding streets were shut down, and the sheriff's office attempted to contact the person believed to be inside by using a bullhorn. The sheriff's office SWAT team, which was training in the area, was brought in for backup along with crisis negotiators and the mobile command unit.
Two residents on nearby Montgomery Street approached law enforcement around noon to report seeing a man jump into a black truck around the time deputies first responded. They said he appeared to duck down to avoid being seen, but couldn't provide a description of the man or the driver.
After no progress was made, deputies contacted the ex-husband's family and friends to determine if he was in the home, according to the sheriff's office. The ex-husband contacted the sheriff's office at 1:30 p.m. to say he was not in the house. He met with deputies 10 minutes later in Cutten.
The sheriff's tactical team forced entry into the house around 2 p.m. with permission from the woman, and cleared it, according to Knight.
"There was no one inside but a dog, and a cat outside," Knight said. "The deputies had heard a noise, and it could've been that."
The ex-husband was brought over to the house, where he collected some papers and the cat, according to Knight. No firearms were located.
"We didn't search the home because there was no legal reason to, and we couldn't see anything obvious," he said.
The Eureka Police Department and California Highway Patrol re-directed traffic during the incident. Knight said they are not releasing any names because no one was arrested.
Officials at Washington School said they were kept aware of the situation.
The sheriff's office asks anyone with information to contact the office at 445-7251 or its crime tip line at 268-2539.
Melissa Simon can be reached at 441-0508 or firstname.lastname@example.org.