Sheriff explains SWAT tactic of removing home's wall

STOCKTON - San Joaquin County Sheriff Steve Moore said a rarely-used SWAT tactic led to the capture of a murder suspect last Friday.

During a 15-hour standoff with Joseph DiBartolomeo that started late Thursday night, SWAT officers used a vehicle to break into the front of the home, creating a large opening. Moore said it's called controlled deconstruction.

"The advantage is the suspect knows we have vision into the home. We've now eliminated places he can hide," Moore said.

Still, the technique is rarely used by SWAT. It's been employed five times in San Joaquin County since 1986, according to Moore.

San Joaquin County most likely will have to pay for repairs to the home, as the sheriff's office caused the damage. Moore said a home's value is not a factor when deciding to use controlled deconstruction.

"Right now, it's the value of the lives involved. We're not worried about the value of the home," the sheriff said.

DiBartolomeo is accused of being part of a group that killed an alleged marijuana grower last October in the community of Acampo. He was the final suspect to be located.

The owner of the home that was damaged Friday probably won't be filing claims or making repairs soon. He's also in jail on unrelated charges.

Although neighbors sounded worried the home could now be broken into since it's empty, Moore insisted his office has secured the building.


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