Man wanted in out-of-state slaying surrenders after Dos Palos standoff

By Thaddeus Miller / tmiller@losbanosenterprise.comApril 12, 2013 

DOS PALOS -- A 27-year-old man wanted in an Oregon slaying was arrested Monday after a standoff between the fugitive and law enforcement ended peacefully.

Leland Nicholson Jr. was taken into custody by the Merced County Sheriff's SWAT Team after the standoff, which lasted about two hours, at a Dos Palos residence in the 1600 block of Ida Street.

Law enforcement learned Nicholson's whereabouts not long after 8 a.m. Monday, when police received a call that he'd been trying to force his way into a residence, said Dos Palos Police Chief Barry Mann.

Nicholson walked down Ida Street and saw police patrol cars. He ran to the home of an acquaintance and forced his way inside, Mann said. Nicholson tried to get help from the occupants of the home, but they refused, according to Mann.

Seeing law enforcement outside the home, Nicholson crawled under the house.

About 10 a.m. Monday, the county SWAT Team set up a perimeter at the request of the Dos Palos Police Department, according to Sheriff Mark Pazin.

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

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

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

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

Mann said he was relieved Monday's incident was resolved peacefully, particularly because Nicholson is believed to have made statements to witnesses that he would not be taken alive by law enforcement.

Klamath County, Ore., law enforcement have been looking for Nicholson in connection with the killing of Terry Entriken, 28. Police there 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.

Mann said all of the schools in Dos Palos were on lockdown throughout Monday's standoff as a precaution. 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 that Nicholson was not armed. He said Nicholson was transported to the Merced County Jail and will be extradited to Klamath Falls.

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

Merced Sun-Star City Editor Victor A. Patton contributed to this report.

Enterprise reporter Thaddeus Miller can be reached at (209) 388-6562 or by email at tmiller@losbanos Merced Sun-Star City Editor Victor A. Patton contributed to this report.

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