By ANGIE ALVARADO & MARY RAINWATER
A suspect who eluded law enforcement agencies during a Saturday evening manhunt surrendered himself to authorities Monday night following a five-hour standoff with officers and negotiators at a Palestine residence.
Jorge Mendoza, a 30-year-old Hispanic male, hid himself in a clothes dryer that was located in the garage of a residence in the 700 block of Lamar Street at about 5:30 p.m. Monday.
Most of the evening’s standoff was spent with negotiators, Sgt. James Muniz of the Palestine Police Department and Ryan Tolliver of the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department attempting to “talk out” the suspect.
Mendoza surrendered after the arrival of a tactical team at about 10:45 p.m. According to an official at the scene, Mendoza dropped his weapon after he was ordered to do so by the tactical team.
“It’s over. They’re bringing him out,” the official said.
Mendoza was given water after surrendering and was able to talk briefly with family members, who had been waiting at the scene, before being taken to jail.
Multiple law enforcement agencies were involved in the standoff including officers from the Palestine Police Department and Chief Robert Herbert, Anderson County Sheriff Department deputies and Sheriff Greg Taylor, Texas Department of Public Safety troopers, Texas Department of Criminal Justice officers and tracking dogs, officers with the U.S. Marshalls Office and Palestine Fire Department officials, including Fire Chief Alan Wilcher.
Mendoza had been sought by police since just after 8:30 p.m. Saturday, when police responded to a disturbance call in the 200 block of Crest Drive and also were informed that a wanted person, Mendoza, was at the location and might be involved in the incident.
“When responding officers arrived at the scene, they observed Mendoza jump from a silver SUV parked in the driveway of a residence and run through the back yard into a wooded area,” PPD Sgt. James Muniz said. “Officers searched the area and were not able to locate Mendoza.”
Joining PPD officers in the search Saturday night were members of the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office, DPS troopers and Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) officers, who brought in tracking dogs to assist. Texas DPS also utilized its helicopter to aid in the search.
“Mendoza had a big head start before all of the needed resources could be brought into use,” Muniz said. “He was able to make his way through the wooded area and it is believed that he was able to slip through the perimeter before the dogs and helicopter could get into place.”
Reports indicated that Mendoza was a suspect in another incident with police just over a month ago in Cherokee County — that he may have been involved in a short car chase before he was able to flee into the woods on foot. Police also believe that Mendoza may have been armed during this incident.
According to police, Mendoza is wanted on several felony charges, including a state parole warrant and possible federal charges.