Standoff ends in
By Lenny Roberts
An Ojai Valley Community Hospital
maintenance worker died Friday at the conclusion of a three-hour
standoff with sheriff's deputies in Meiners Oaks. What Piarre
Reed did to be shot by a S.W.A.T. sniper remains undisclosed
pending an extensive internal investigation.
"We were afraid for the safety of residents in that area,"
said Eric Nishimoto, sheriff's public information officer. "It's
a populated area with a number of people we were trying to evacuate.
"Certainly, there were indications that he was under the
influence of something along with having possible emotional problems.
We were trying to contain him to his residence. Unfortunately,
we were not able to, and he continued to fire off rounds. As
a matter of officer and public safety, we unfortunately had to
fire a shot."
Reed, 43, reportedly had fired numerous rifle shots from inside
his residence, a two-story home in the 2200 block of Maricopa
Highway, where deputies had been summoned Thursday afternoon
for a disturbance call and twice again on Friday morning.
Ojai Police Chief Gary Pentis served as the initial incident
commander. He said that deputies arrived at 7 a.m. after neighbors
said he was screaming obscenities. Arriving deputies confirmed
that allegation, but had to respond to a silent hold-up alarm
at a nearby bank, which turned out to be false.
"The deputies got a signed
complaint from a neighbor for disturbing the peace, but had to
go on the bank call," Pentis said. "They intended to
go back and arrest him, but at 9:05, neighbors made 9-1-1 calls
reporting shots fired. As I opened my car door when I arrived,
I heard a shot or two. We began evacuating the neighbors while
Evans began to talk to him."
Detective Joe Evans, one of Ojai's two trained hostage negotiators,
said he made several attempts to make contact with Reed from
his position 75 feet away.
"He was obviously very distraught and angry. We attempted
to contact him at his home phone, but there was no answer and
he would not pick up his cell phone. When that didn't work, I
began verbal commands by yelling," Evans recalled.
"What we were concerned about is that deputies heard a gunshot
when they first responded. While they were concerned for the
safety of the neighbors, I was concerned that he might have been
injured. I just wanted him to say he was OK. I know he could
hear me but all he would do is call back obscenities. My whole
goal was to develop communication to solve the problem without
any violence, but we were never able to get a dialogue going.
(The shooting) was not the outcome that anyone wanted. But it
was the outcome that happened. It was his choice."
As scores of S.W.A.T. members and sheriff's supervisors were
arriving at the cordoned-off area on Maricopa Highway between
Lomita Avenue and Arnaz Street, more shots were fired out of
a window. It was not known if those shots were fired at deputies
or at random, according to Sgt. Ron Nelson. At that point, negotiations
were broken off. At 11:25, Reed entered the bottom floor of the
two-story residence and began busting out windows, according
to nearby deputies.
Six minutes later, S.W.A.T. deputies reported that they entered
the bottom floor, but quickly left the building. At 11:51, Reed
exited the residence; fired a round into the air, began yelling
at a dog that was barking, and re-entered the home. Three minutes
later, he was shot, once through the head while standing in the
Deputy Ray Bornand knew Reed both professionally and from Don's
Gym, where both were members. Bornand's first contact with Reed
was late in 1997 when he responded to a domestic incident when
Reed resided on Highland Drive.
"The neighbors said that he had weapons and he was threatening
to fire them," Bornand said. "We went in, and he did
have several firearms. He was highly agitated, but we were able
to communicate with him."
As a result of that altercation, a potential hazard file was
established on the address for officer safety because Reed had
weapons and allegedly threatened to shoot deputies.
"I've handled a few domestic calls or problems with neighbors
involving Reed, but we were always able to calm him down. He
respected deputies, especially the older ones," Bornand
Bornand, who is on temporary medical leave, added in recent years,
Reed appeared to have gotten his life in order, working out regularly
three or four times a week, staying in shape and not drinking.
Bornand remembers seeing Reed at Vons about three months ago.
"I said, 'Hi,'" Bornand recalled. "He seemed healthy
and happy. I didn't sense any problems. I'm sure the right call
was made (Friday). The deputies just had to do their jobs. It's
just unfortunate that it had to go to this extreme. I'm just
glad no one else got hurt."
Like Bornand, Arnaz Avenue resident Ben Barraza worked out at
Don's Gym with Reed, but has known him since their days in junior
high school. Barraza said he ran into Reed about a month ago
at an Oak View gas station, and Reed seemed coherent. Barraza
did not recall any irrational behavior from Reed, other than
a depressed state following breakups of relationships.
"He was a pretty easy-going guy who had a good heart,"
Barraza said. "He had to
be under a tremendous amount of stress. This was totally out
of character for him. Piarre was the type of guy who would never
Along with working at the hospital, Reed owned Ojai Aire, an
engineering company in the heating and air conditioning business.
On some non-hospital projects, Reed partnered with Carl Graves,
the hospital's head of engineering. Graves told the OVN that
Reed had appeared "down in the dumps, lamenting that he
had no life."
Further, Reed became agitated Thursday at work, according to
Graves, and began drinking heavily, calling him at least seven
times that night.
Nishimoto explained that standard operating procedure dictates
that any deputy involved in an officer-involved shooting is taken
off duty until a staff psychologist does an evaluation. Depending
on the outcome of that evaluation, he or she can go back to their
current position or be reassigned if another assignment is believed
Nishimoto would not disclose what caliber of weapon Reed was
firing; what evidence was recovered from his residence and car;
or what substances were found in Reed's body.
"These types of investigations are a little different,"
he said. "Every specific detail is checked and rechecked
and reconfirmed. We have to make 100 percent certain that we
have all facts before we release any information publicly."
The Ojai Valley News
to the news
officers take up position outside the house in Meiners Oaks where
Piarre Reed was holed up. In all, as many as 30 officers responded
to the three-hour standoff.