Crime - Sacto 911

Suspect in Capitol standoff makes brief court appearance

With the aid of a Spanish language interpreter, Edgar Napoles Rodriguez, left, is arraigned Wednesday, April 20, 2016, in Sacramento.
With the aid of a Spanish language interpreter, Edgar Napoles Rodriguez, left, is arraigned Wednesday, April 20, 2016, in Sacramento.

No longer smiling, Edgar Napoles Rodriguez – the man who made headlines Monday for an hours-long standoff in front of the state Capitol – was arraigned quietly Wednesday in Sacramento Superior Court.

Napoles Rodriguez, 27, was bubbling with excitement the day before in interviews with reporters from jail. He claimed he had no choice but to do something drastic, hoping to draw attention to an alleged conspiracy to kill him.

The suspect, wearing an orange jumpsuit, said only a few words Wednesday in Spanish to his interpreter. While Sacramento Superior Court Judge Michael G. Bowman read the charges, Napoles Rodriguez looked intently at his interpreter.

At the end of the two-minute hearing, Napoles Rodriguez briefly made a thumbs-up sign before exiting the room.

He faces two charges – making a bomb threat and resisting an officer – in the Monday incident in which he barricaded himself in a car on L Street, prompting an evacuation of nearby buildings. Sacramento police said they found a device that resembled a bomb in the trunk of the vehicle, an allegation the suspect denies.

Napoles Rodriguez told The Sacramento Bee on Tuesday that his “life was at risk” after falling victim to an insurance fraud scam. He said people were ready to kill him, adding that he resorted to the standoff after law enforcement rebuffed his earlier pleas for help. He did not specify who the people were or why they wanted to harm him.

During the hourlong interview, which was conducted in English, the suspect repeatedly denied using drugs and insisted he was mentally sound. Police have declined to comment on the suspect’s mental state.

As he sat in his car Monday, parked on L Street, Napoles Rodriguez posted several messages on Facebook, including a photograph of a signed letter from a police officer acquiescing to his demands. The Sacramento Police Department declined to comment on the authenticity of the letter.

One note read, “I (Officer) Hughes ... do swear to help Edgar Nopales (sic) in search of justice. Edgar will not be arrested for blocking the street. We will have Edgar talk to his kids.”

Napoles Rodriguez, who worked as a painter, said he entered the country illegally from Mexico in 2005 but soon married a U.S. citizen. He said he did not know whether he had legal residency status in the country.

During the hearing Wednesday, Napoles Rodriguez was appointed a public defender. He remains at the Sacramento County Main Jail without the possibility of bail and will next appear in court Monday.

Richard Chang: 916-321-1018, @RichardYChang