Gun Battle with Police Ends in Murder/Suicide

Watsonville man shoots father dead, self -- after exchanging hours of gunfire with police.

By Bay City News
|  Friday, Jul 8, 2011  |  Updated 8:59 AM PDT
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Gun Battle with Police Ends in Murder/Suicide

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Police have identified two men who died in what appears to have been a murder-suicide at a Watsonville home Wednesday night after a seven-hour police standoff.

Watsonville police Sgt. Tony Magdayao responded to the home in the first block of Lawrence Street at around 5:40 p.m. after receiving reports of a domestic disturbance at the house, Deputy Police Chief Rudy Escalante said.

Aaron Hull, 36, met Magdayao at the door. Hull told the officer that he and his father, 62-year-old Stephen Hull, had been in a physical fight.

The officer noticed that Hull had a hand injury and asked him whether anybody else was inside the house and if they needed medical attention. Aaron Hull told Magdayao that his father had suffered a gunshot wound to his head and indicated that he had left the house, police said.

Magdayao had convinced Aaron Hull to come outside to help look for his father but then Hull turned and went back towards the house. Magdayao followed him and ordered him to stop, police said.

Police said Aaron Hull did not comply and Magdayao followed him to the door. The officer took one step inside the house where he saw Stephen Hull lying on the floor in the living room looking lifeless, with a "significant amount of blood" around his head, Escalante said.

Magdayao grabbed Aaron Hull and a physical fight ensued, police said. Hull managed to break free and ran into the house. Police said Magdayao feared Hull would retrieve a firearm and he fired one shot at Hull.

Hull shut the front door in the officer's face and allegedly fired about seven shots through the closed door. The officer returned fire and started "running for his life," Escalante said.

Other officers, including emergency personnel and Santa Cruz County sheriff's deputies, responded and surrounded the house, Escalante said. For nearly six hours, the officers tried to establish contact with Aaron Hull, but there was no response.

An attempt to use audio and video devices to find him was unsuccessful. Then, around 12:30 a.m., a sheriff's SWAT team entered the house and found Aaron and Stephen Hull dead on the living room floor.

Each had suffered a single gunshot wound to the head, Escalante said. Also in the living room, officers recovered ammunition and three weapons - a rifle, which appears to have been used by Aaron Hull against the officer, a shotgun, and a pistol.

Escalante said investigators are still reviewing evidence in the case. He said it was lucky that no one else in the neighborhood was harmed. Police used a reverse 911 system to notify the residents about the situation and order them to shelter in place.

Dozens of officers responded to the incident, including the California Highway Patrol, Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office, and various fire and medical personnel.

"On behalf of the Watsonville Police Department, we are saddened by this kind of tragic event," Escalante said. "It's an extremely unfortunate incident," he said. "Our hearts go out to the family. We're grateful our officers were not injured or killed. The activities in this event could have easily dictated that."

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