PLEASANT HILL, Calif. - An ex-cop who was involved in a prolonged standoff with Pleasant Hill police officers after he allegedly shot and injured his wife has been charged with a slew of felonies.
Chunliam Nai Saechao, a retired Pittsburg police detective, was charged by the Contra Costa District Attorney's Office with nine counts of attempted murder of peace officers, assault with a firearm, and injuring a spouse on Wednesday.
The 40-year-old is being held without bail at the Martinez Detention Facility.
Authorities said Saechao might have suffered a mental health episode when he barricaded himself in his home in the Sherman Acres neighborhood for nearly three days starting last Thursday after he shot at his wife while she tried to enter their home. She was injured.
The ordeal triggered two standoffs with Pleasant Hill police, during which Saechao allegedly shot at officers who were trying to evacuate nearby homes. Bullets also struck a police car with two officers inside, though they weren't injured.
Pleasant Hill police have faced some criticism for the tactics used during the 40-hour ordeal with Saechao, a former cop and Marine.
At one point, Chief Scott Vermillion removed the SWAT team from outside Saechao's home and left him alone in his home. Though officers were still in the area – just out of sight- and monitoring the suspect's social media account that he had been using to live tweet.
"We really believed if we would have done anything else, other than use time, there would have been loss of life, and at the end of it, we were able to avoid that," Vermillion said.
The chief says police didn’t believe Saechao was a threat to the public at first. But that changed when he says Saechao made threats online after the police left.
In one post on X, police say Saechao wrote "I will not comply with any foolish laws. If I feel threatened, then I will kill you. When I die I know I will be in heaven, so it is OK."
The top cop says posts such as those made clear the SWAT team had to be redeployed. That led to a second standoff which ended with Saechao surrendering early Saturday morning.
Vermillion stood behind the de-escalation tactics used during the saga.
"Our adversary that night had military combat training. He was an ex-law enforcement officer," said the chief.
Pleasant Hill Mayor Matt Rinn said he supported the department's decision-making, saying in a statement in part, "The strategies employed had the desired effect, as Mr. Saechao did voluntarily surrender himself into custody in a manner that safeguarded himself, the neighborhood, and the law enforcement officers on scene."