Lodi police enlisted the help of California Highway Patrol and the Lodi Fire Department to arrest a suspect hiding on the roof of a restaurant on Wednesday night.
“It looks like it was a good hour and a half, two hours before they were able to take him into custody,” Lodi Police Sgt. Tim Fritz said on Thursday.
According to Fritz, Lodi Police Officer Cameron Beck was inspecting a vehicle that he believed to be stolen on Westgate Drive behind Walmart at approximately 9:20 p.m. Wednesday when a male, later identified as 31-year-old Benjamin Ayala of Stockton, approached the vehicle.
Ayala reportedly fled when he noticed the officers and eventually made his way to the roof of Chili’s, 2745 W. Kettleman Lane, where officers set up a perimeter and evacuated the restaurant.
“Most calls are fluid situations, but they knew someone was up there and they had to develop a plan to get up there and make the arrest, and then how to get him down after making the arrest,” Fritz said.
A CHP airplane responded and used its infrared camera to detect a heat source coming from one of the vents on the restaurant’s roof.
Lodi Fire sent a ladder truck to assist, Fritz said, and a team of officers used the truck’s ladder to access the roof where they found Ayala hiding in an air conditioning vent before ordering him out and taking him into custody.
The initial suspicious vehicle was confirmed to be stolen, Fritz said, and the vehicle’s key was found where Ayala had been hiding.
Ayala was arrested and booked into Lodi City Jail on suspicion of vehicle theft, possession of stolen property, resisting arrest and two no-bail misdemeanor warrants.