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Turlock homeowner nabs burglar at gunpoint
Martin Zamora

A Turlock resident is crediting his experience in law enforcement 25 years ago as helping him stay calm when a stranger burst into his home Friday night.

The suspect, identified as 26-year-old Martin Zamora, was arrested for burglary after he was held at gunpoint by the homeowner, Gilbert Minjares, 53.

“I thank God I was able to stay level-headed and think about my daughter or this could have ended so differently,” Minjares said.

Minjares was getting his 5-year-old daughter ready for bed around 11 p.m. Friday night when he heard a crash come from his backyard on E. Marshall Street.

“I wasn’t sure what it was, but I put my daughter in the closet and I got my gun, which has a laser on it,” Minjares said. “I took a few steps toward the French doors which lead outside and then this guy comes barreling through the doors and into my room. This big guy is looking at me and I raise my gun and point it right at him and tell him if he moves I’ll blow his head off.

“Had my daughter not been there, I have no doubt that I would have killed him,” Minjares said. “But I didn’t want her to see that and I didn’t want her to remember it for the rest of her life.”

Minjares recounted that in a very calm manner he told the suspect to back up out of the door to the outside.

“I didn’t want him too close to where my daughter was,” Minjares said.

Minjares ordered the suspect to lie on the ground and lace his fingers behind his back. He checked him for weapons and then realized he had a bit of a dilemma. He knew he needed to call the police, but his phone was back in the house.

“I kept that laser pointed at his face and told him if he made any movement I’d shoot him,” Minjares said. “I kept it angled on him while I backed in and grabbed my phone. He was looking at me the whole time.”

Minjares told the emergency dispatcher that he had a burglar held at gunpoint and that the police needed to get there soon. He also described what he and the suspect were both wearing so there was no confusion for the officers.

“The 911 operator was fantastic,” Minjares said. “She relayed all the details I told her, so that not one officer pointed a gun at me.”

As soon as the suspect was in custody Minjares ran back into his home to get his little girl, who he found hiding behind his clothes in his closet.

“We’ll watch ‘Cops’ sometimes and she asked me ‘did they get the bad boy, bad boy whatcha gonna do?’ I told her yes that we were safe again.”

Minjares went through a police academy and was sworn in as an officer in San Jose 25 years ago, before deciding to pursue another career path.

“That experience that I had stayed with me all this time and helped me stay calm,” Minjares said.

Minjares said he later learned the suspect had been involved in some altercation at a bar in downtown Turlock and had possibly been sprayed in the eyes with Mace. He also said the suspect allegedly tried to break-in to a neighbor’s garage but was chased off when the homeowner swung a 2x4 at him.

Zamora was taken into custody and booked into the Stanislaus County Jail on a charge of burglary.