Sheltering in Place: What You Should Know, What You Should Do

A guide to what you should know and do if police advise you to “shelter in place” while they hunt dangerous suspects

Published : Tuesday, March 5, 2019 | 6:37 AM

Above, scenes from past Pasadena police containment searches and training from Pasadena Now archives.

Last Friday morning’s manhunt for a killer who fled into neighborhoods near the Pasadena Convention Center kept hundreds of Pasadenans trapped inside their residence or workplace for over five hours while police sought a man described as “extremely dangerous.”

From just after 9:05 a.m. until almost 3:00 p.m., officers searched a large containment area for the suspect with the assistance of a police helicopter, canines, and Glendale police backup.

The man slipped away. But later, that night, a U.S Marshal’s task force caught up with suspect Telly Johnson, 41, and arrested him in Los Angeles.

The hunt for murder suspect Telly Johnson on Friday, March 2, 2019, by Pasadena police kept hundreds of Pasadenans sheltered in place for over 5 hours in a large containment area.

As the search operation dragged on hour after hour on Friday, some residents became impatient, even cranky, at the inconvenience.

For police, the stakes were high. The suspect had reportedly flown into a rage and violently attacked his victim with a switchblade, stabbing him in the face and chest. The killer was at large and probably desperate.

Pasadena Now asked authorities what the right moves are for residents during shelter in place operations.

Pasadena Police Department spokesman Lt. Jason Clawson advised that those in an area under police search lock their doors and windows to block escape routes and hiding places for the suspect.

Close the curtains and report unusual noises to the police, he said.

If the situation is one where you feel you must leave —you still can’t, said Clawson. For medical emergencies, call 911.

“Safety and security may cause an inconvenience,” he explained. “We do not want the public to become part of developing circumstances as they may cause for unnecessary resources to be taken out of the mission or search, along with the possibility of being confronted by the suspect looking for a way out of the area.”

It is, he said, a judgment call as to whether you should leave your house to warn a neighbor walking about unawares.

“Yell out if needed,” Clawson said.

In the case of the hunt for suspect Telly Johnson last Friday, Clawson said the containment area was about nine-blocks in dimension.

Police procedure involves trying to isolate areas where a suspect was last seen.

“We search yard-to-yard with teams and dogs, ensuring nothing is missed such as crawl spaces, sheds, out buildings, etc,” he said. “We search for signs that someone may have broken into a residence in a chance to escape.”

Suspects have been pulled from trash cans, pried from crawl spaces, rousted out of basements, shaken from attics, scooped out of car trunks, and driven from barricaded homes, according to Clawson.

The task is both methodical and laden with caution, he said. Depending on an area, such as a three-story apartment complex or subterranean garage, some searches may take hours as mutual aid teams of law enforcement officers are called in.

“If the situation results in a barricade,” said Clawson, “the search may drag on for hours if not a day.”

Today’s suspect search has numerous tools at its disposal including forward-looking infrared systems, canines, human or manual searches, witnesses, helicopters and “other electronic technologies,” according to Clawson.

The City of Pasadena has an emergency notification system called PLEAS. Pasadenans must opt into the system to receive emergency notifications.

“We have the ability to highlight a geographic area of the city that is affected by an incident and call any landline phones in that area,” explained City spokeswoman Lisa Derderian. Cell phones registered to an address in an affected area can also receive notifications.

“You will only receive emergency notifications if you are in the area,” Derderian explained, “That’s why we encourage all residents, businesses, and schools to follow the city on social media to get the latest information.”

The link to the City of Pasadena’s PLEAS emergency notification system is here: https://www.cityofpasadena.net/fire/pleas/

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