A former school board candidate who police said forced his way into a San Marino home and held his estranged wife and their family against their will while armed remained in the Men’s Central Jail in Los Angeles on $2.335-million bond as of The Outlook’s Tuesday press deadline.
Police arrested John Gabriel, 44, early Thursday, Sept. 12, after he allegedly barricaded himself in a home in the 2100 block of Sherwood Road, leading to a SWAT team’s intervention that kept nearby residents awake through much of the night. Law enforcement officials remained at the scene for most of Thursday, with the block cordoned off from through traffic, while narcotics lab crews removed several containers of what authorities believe may be fentanyl and other illegal drugs from the defendant’s vehicle in the driveway.
San Marino Police Chief John Incontro acknowledged frustration among nearby residents who were unable to find information on the incident and reminded them that the best avenues for getting his department’s updates are social media and other communication tools.
“In an emergency, that’s why we want you to subscribe to Nixle,” he said.
Gabriel, who Incontro said has lived “for several years” at a San Gabriel address, was arraigned in Alhambra on Monday on felony charges of making criminal threats, child endangerment and resisting arrest, in addition to three counts of disturbing the peace with a firearm and one count of possession of a firearm with an obliterated serial number, all misdemeanors. Gabriel additionally is charged with six counts of possession of illegal drugs with intent to sell — all felony accusations.
Gabriel has pleaded not guilty to all charges and is next due in court on Oct. 2. When he was taken into custody last week, he was out on $100,000 bail from a Friday, Sept. 6, arrest by the Los Angeles Police Department’s North Hollywood Division on suspicion of drug-related violations; he was released at 3:45 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 7. It was unclear whether Gabriel had a defense attorney as of press time.
According to a San Marino Police Department news release, the defendant showed up at the Sherwood Road home unexpectedly about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 11. His wife, their three children and her parents live at the home, and another member of her family was present at the time. After an argument, the defendant brandished a handgun and threatened his family, according to SMPD.
One of the occupants managed to contact police and, as officers arrived, four occupants fled the home while Gabriel allegedly remained inside. However, two of the children and their grandmother were still in the home. Officers reported they saw the defendant inside the home, holding an object later confirmed to be a handgun, according to SMPD.
After the defendant refused several orders to surrender, police said, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Special Enforcement Bureau, which includes a SWAT team, was called in to assist with extraction and negotiation.
Bureau members used flash bang devices and tactics to enter the home and secure the three remaining occupants, according to police, and continued to try goading Gabriel from the home. At around 2:55 a.m., he exited the house without the handgun but remained uncooperative with the negotiating officers, according to Incontro, and one officer discharged a nonlethal 40-millimeter sponge round to try incapacitating him. Incontro said the defendant remained uncooperative until a K-9 unit ultimately brought him down, and he was arrested.
Gabriel received 677 votes in last year’s election for the San Marino Unified School District Board of Education, placing last among seven candidates competing for three seats. During the election, Gabriel touted his six years as a noncommissioned officer and paramedic in the U.S. Army, saying he had earned the distinguished Expert Field Medical Badge during his service. He described himself as a senior director at “one of the world’s top consultancies,” but declined to name the firm.
In addition to the three SMPD officers who were on duty, at least eight off-duty San Marino officers reported to the scene and police departments in Pasadena, South Pasadena, San Gabriel, Alhambra, Monterey Park, Glendale and Burbank sent officers to assist throughout the ordeal.
“I can’t thank the Sheriff’s Department enough,” Incontro added. “With their skills, their talent and their behavior, they are an outstanding asset and we appreciate their assistance in resolving this in a safe manner.”
Emergency responders from neighboring agencies, including the Glendale and Burbank fire departments, were seen near the home during the day Thursday as SMPD accessed Gabriel’s vehicle and uncovered what officers alleged were fentanyl, methamphetamine and several other illegal drugs inside several containers in the vehicle.
A search of Gabriel’s residence also yielded a number of what police suspect are drugs, Incontro added. The handgun Gabriel was alleged to have used during the Sherwood Road incident had apparently been altered and had its serial number scratched off.