Baby Rescued; Man Found Behind Liquor Store

7 Houses In La Salle Neighborhood Evacuated

A 6-month-old girl believed to have been held hostage by a man who barricaded himself inside a La Salle home has been rescued and is safe, according to the Weld County Sheriff's Office.

However, the man wasn't inside the home when SWAT officers raided it, and the baby had been abandoned, said Weld County Undersheriff Margie Martinez.

After about an hour of searching, deputies found 44-year-old Gabriel Esparza hiding behind a liquor store in La Salle, Martinez said. He is now being held on charges of second-degree assault and violating a restraining order. He could also face additional charges, including charges of child abuse, Martinez said.

It's not clear when he fled the home and how long the baby had been home alone.

The incident began early Friday morning as a domestic situation where a woman inside the home on the 200 block of Ley Drive said her boyfriend assaulted her and threatened to kill her, said Weld County Undersheriff Margie Martinez.

The woman got away but her baby remained inside the home.

The woman called police around 1:30 a.m. and the SWAT team was called in around 3 a.m., Martinez said.

Negotiators tried to make contact with the man, but were unsuccessful, she said.

SWAT officers surrounded the home and after the search warrants and arrest warrants were signed, officers stormed into the home just after 7:30 a.m. and rescued the child, Martinez said.

After searching the home with a K-9 unit, officers determined that the man was not around. A tipster called police about an hour later, saying that a man was hiding behind a liquor store.

Officers arrived and found Esparza hiding by the railroad tracks behind the store.

Seven homes in the neighborhood were evacuated as a precaution during the six-hour standoff.

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