Deputies in Spring Valley, California thought they'd found their suspect when they surrounded a house and ordered its inhabitants out. But the man they were looking for — an armed gunman who had robbed a medical marijuana delivery service — wasn't there. Instead, the deputies interrupted a family having dinner.
Resident Willie Houston tried to figure out what was going on.
So I go outside to the door and they tell me to stick my hand through the bar and come on out and follow the voice and the light, and as soon as I get out they handcuff me.
Ordered out at gunpoint, the family left the house in a hurry. Houston's wife Christine asked if she could go back inside to turn off the stove, but her request was denied.
That's when the fire started.
Two women and a seven-year-old girl were trapped upstairs while the blaze raged in the kitchen. Deputies used a skateboard and a fire ax to break the windows and save the people still inside. By the time the fire department arrived, the entire family was safe.
Of course, that doesn't change the fact that the whole event was a terrible misunderstanding, as Houston notes.
But I think it could be handled better than what it was, especially when we [were] informing them there was no reason for our kitchen to catch on fire; we could've lost everything last night.
The San Diego Sheriff's Department is looking into the incident.