Suspicious vehicle report led to standoff

An Idaho man is in jail after a four-hour standoff Tuesday at a home at Maple Street and Second Avenue.

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WALLA WALLA — An Idaho man has been arrested after a nearly four-hour standoff at a local home.

Christopher Robling, 30, of Nampa, was booked into Walla Walla County Jail on Tuesday on suspicion of possessing stolen property, residential burglary, felon in possession of a firearm and felony eluding, according to a news release.

City police report that about 12:30 p.m., officers received reports of a suspicious vehicle in the 600 block of Newell Street, where residents reported seeing a man switching license plates on his Dodge pickup. An officer who ran the truck’s plate learned it was reported stolen from an Oregon vehicle.

Robling is believed to have stolen the truck he was driving from Caldwell, Idaho, said city police Sgt. Matt Wood. Inside the truck, officers found firearms that were also reported as stolen in a burglary, police said.

Robling reportedly drove off before officers could approach him, initiating a pursuit, then crashed the truck into a small creek at the dead end of Bryant Avenue, according to the release. A woman who remained in the vehicle was detained for allegedly giving police false information. Robling took off on foot, and broke into an unoccupied house at 803 S. Second Ave., Wood said.

The home, which is listed as being owned by Clinton Townsend, soon became the scene of the standoff, as city police were joined by Walla Wall County sheriff’s deputies, Washington State Patrol troopers and members of the Emergency Services Unit, a SWAT-like response team.

Access to Second Avenue and Maple Street in the general area was closed off to traffic and pedestrians. Police cordoned off the area around the home. Officers were periodically using a megaphone to call out Robling’s name and order him to come out the front door or call 911.

The standoff had drawn a crowd of onlookers from around the area and police were moving people farther away from the location following reports that Robling was armed with a shotgun or high-powered rifle.

By about 2:40 p.m., officers continued to use a loudspeaker to try and talk with Robling, with no success. About 4 p.m., an effort was made to bring a phone into the home, which didn’t appear to have a land line. The sound of a window breaking could be heard from the street as officers delivered the negotiator phone into the residence. Police say Robling then left the house through the back, and jumped a fence into a neighbor’s yard, where was subdued with a Taser and arrested. Robling was in custody and the streets started to be cleared about 4:20 p.m.

Children at school for the first day of classes were also affected by the standoff. Parents whose children attend Blue Ridge, Edison and Sharpstein elementary schools, Garrison Middle School and Lincoln Alternative High School, were notified of the situation by phone and asked to pick up their children. Children were not being allowed to walk home or wait at bus stops near the scene of the standoff, on police instructions.

District spokesman Mark Higgins said the children’s safety was of highest concern. In some cases, children where taken by bus directly to their homes. After-school activities at Garrison were canceled.

"Thankfully this situation ended peacefully and no one was hurt," he said.

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