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Swazey Street standoff 

If you try to go home after work on St. Patrick’s Day, only to find that your street has been blocked off by a SWAT team because a man is holed up in an recreational vehicle with a shotgun and an AR-15, there’s really only a few reasonable things to do. In my case, it was going to McCarthy’s for a proper pint.

 After Jesse Lewelling, 29, was fingered for a burglary, police tried to track the suspect down to his known residence on Swazey Street, a few doors down from my humble abode. At 2:45 pm on March 17 they found him, but he refused to come out of the motor home he was living in, and threatened the officers with the previously mentioned weapons. Not cool.

 So the officers quickly called in the SWAT, blocked off the street and then began what would eventually be an eleven-hour standoff. Many of my Swazey Street neighbors congregated down the street at various friends’ houses, speculating on what was really going on. Rumors flew. Eventually they either got rooms at local motels or stayed with friends and family; myself, I went to a long dinner at Giuseppe’s and enjoyed the company of friends until I made my way back up to Swazey around 1:00 am to see if the stand-off was over.

 At around 1:20 I heard the hollow sound of a tear gas canister being discharged, a sign I immediately understood to mean that my well-armed neighbor would soon be either in cuffs in the back of a squad car, or, unfortunately, in an ambulance heading to a less certain future. Thankfully, he ended up in the squad car.

 Once Lewelling was secure, SLO Chief of Police Deb Linden approached his family and friends, who were waiting next to the Jennifer Street Bridge, to tell them that the suspect had been taken in without harm. There was a collective sense of relief.

 In a matter of minutes, the sheriff’s deputies, SWAT team and multiple police agencies had packed up and left Swazey. The only trace of the standoff was an empty Woodstock’s pizza box on my front porch, left (presumably) by hungry lawmen. They’d had the Mustang, a wicked creation with pineapple, bell peppers, lingucia, onions, and pepperoni.

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