Sheriff's SWAT Team takes Oregon homicide suspect into custody

tmiller@losbanosenterprise.comApril 8, 2013 

DOS PALOS -- A standoff between a wanted Oregon man hiding in Dos Palos and Merced County Sheriff's officers ended safely Monday.

Around 9:30 a.m. Monday, the Merced County SWAT Team set up a perimeter around the 1800 block of Mabel Avenue at the request of the Dos Palos Police Department, according to Sheriff Mark Pazin.

Police received a 911 call Monday morning from a resident of the home, who reported that Leland Nicholson Jr. was attempting to hide out, Pazin said.

"The family was able to get out of there safely," Pazin said. “What makes this even more heinous is there was small children in the house while this person was trying to seek refuge.”

Nicholson, 27, hid under the house for about two hours before surrendering to the SWAT Team around noon. Pazin estimated he had been in Dos Palos for about a week, and had contacted family to hide out.

On Sunday, Nicholson's half-sister Rebecca Paz, 36, was taken into custody after Dos Palos police confirmed that Nicholson received food and shelter from her while he was on the run, according to police.

"Dos Palos PD (Police Department) kept him secure here but kept him moving around," Pazin said. "And, finally, the family connected the dots (and) started calling local law enforcement."

Klamath County, Ore., law enforcement has been looking for Nicholson in connection with the killing of Terry Entriken, 28. Police say Nicholson also tried to kill Vanessa Alexander, 36. Entriken was shot in the back of the head, according to the Herald and News newspaper in Klamath Falls, Ore. Police have yet to determine a motive.

Dos Palos Police Chief Barry Mann said all of the schools in Dos Palos were on lockdown throughout the incident as a precautionary measure. Bernard Marks Elementary School is one block south of the residence.

Deputy Delray Shelton, the sheriff's spokesman, said no one was injured in relation to the standoff and Nicholson was not armed. “We were able to create a dialogue with the individual (and) in return he surrendered without incident,” Shelton said.

Nicholson was transported to the Merced County Jail and will be extradited to Klamath Falls, Shelton said.

Enterprise reporter Thaddeus Miller can be reached at (209) 388-6562 or by email at

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