Crime

Boise residents saw fugitive, heard police SWAT on roof before shootout

Jack Garrett, 83, who has lived in the Central Rim neighborhood about 50 years, points to the 6-foot fence that a man fleeing police jumped Friday afternoon. Garrett’s neighbor, Mrs. Lenz, saw the man jump into his yard, and he found footprints in a pile of grass that he believes were left behind when the man jumped a fence into a third yard.
Jack Garrett, 83, who has lived in the Central Rim neighborhood about 50 years, points to the 6-foot fence that a man fleeing police jumped Friday afternoon. Garrett’s neighbor, Mrs. Lenz, saw the man jump into his yard, and he found footprints in a pile of grass that he believes were left behind when the man jumped a fence into a third yard.

A normally quiet section of Boise’s Central Rim neighborhood went through quite a trauma Friday afternoon, but there was little visible evidence Saturday morning of the shootout that left a suspect dead and sent two police officers and a police dog to local hospitals.

The Ada County coroner has not confirmed the name of the man who died in the shooting, but police believe it was Marco Romero, who was wanted in connection with the Tuesday shooting of two people in Meridian and a carjacking on Thursday in Meridian.

Special Operations Unit Cpl. Chris Davis, a 16-year veteran of the department, was shot in the leg. He was treated and released from the hospital Saturday morning. The name of the other officer, who remains in critical condition after being shot several times, has not been released.

The police dog, Jardo, was shot in the chest — and lost a lung — but he is now recovering from surgery.

Many walked, jogged and bicycled past the area Saturday morning without turning a head, though a few stopped to talk to neighbors about what they saw.

“It was weird when I got up this morning, and it was like nothing had happened,” said a 34-year-old father of two, who lives next door to the house where a man on the run from police tried to hide. “It was kind of eerie — was that a nightmare or a dream?”

He said he came home Friday afternoon to find police with guns drawn near his house. They allowed him to go inside, but said “if you see anything weird in the backyard, call 911.”

“I told my wife not to come home,” he said. The couple had their children stay with their grandparents last night.

On Saturday morning, a single piece of crime scene tape hung across the fence of his neighbor’s backyard, directly across the street from the Discovery Church. The only other thing that looked unusual: large red squares painted in the grass of the backyard.

After setting up a large spotlight, police appeared to be processing evidence in the driveway of that house until about midnight Friday, neighbors said. A knock on the door Saturday went unanswered. A man who lives on the corner of Wilson and Irving streets said police didn’t allow him back into his home until about 12:30 a.m. Saturday.

Vern Lenz, who lives on Wilson Street, was out taking photos in his yard.

“I may have found a footprint [from the suspect],” said Lenz, still in his bathrobe. He planned to share it with one of the detectives on the case. Another neighbor, Jack Garrett, also found a footprint that he believes was left by the fleeing fugitive.

Lenz, a Boise tech writer, was having a relatively low-key day working at home Friday — when all hell broke loose.

His wife, who did not want to be named, was sitting on their back porch around 1 p.m. when she saw a stranger run into the backyard and then pull himself over a 6-foot fence into a neighbor’s yard. She did not see a weapon.

She said the man appeared to be headed toward Irving Street, but police were already there. Soon after, she heard something slam — a sound akin to a trunk closing. She thought maybe he went into the neighbor’s house, but a shed in the backyard was also a possibility.

Vern Lenz notified a police officer outside his house about the man, then retreated inside to safety. The Lenzes said they saw SWAT officers in their yard and heard them on their roof.

“For a while, we thought he [suspect] was on our roof,” Vern Lenz said.

Police got a citizen tip at 12:45 p.m. Friday that a man thought to be Romero was spotted in the stolen car, and a second report soon after. They began searching the area north of Orchard and Overland streets.

Police said they saw the suspect driving “erratically” north on Overland near Franklin but they lost track of him. Members of the public helped police stay on his trail, and officers spotted him walking — then running — down the street. Police set up a secure perimeter in the area of Irving near Roosevelt and Wilson, controlling vehicle and other traffic in the area.

Police called in the Special Operations Unit to assist in locating the suspect. They were doing a yard-to-yard search when they encountered him, just before 3:30 p.m.

Lenz’s wife said she heard police use a loudspeaker to urge the suspect to surrender.

“They called him twice,” she said.

The gunfire that erupted unnerved everyone.

“It’s pretty scary, especially when you hear that many gunshots,” said a woman who lives on Roosevelt Street and didn’t want to be named. “I was going to see if there are bullet holes in my house. You never know.”

The suspect in the shooting was pronounced dead Friday at a Boise hospital. The Ada County coroner has not yet confirmed that it was Romero, but his family and friends came to the scene of the shooting soon after it happened and were extremely distraught.

Katy Moeller: 208-377-6413, @KatyMoeller

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