Suspect in police shooting had history of fighting with cops, threats, records show

A man killed Monday during a shootout with two Los Banos police officers had a history of fighting with law enforcement and drug use and two restraining orders filed against him in court — one from an ex-landlord and one from his estranged wife, according to Merced County Superior Court records.

The Merced County Coroner’s Office identified the suspect in Monday’s officer-involved shooting in Los Banos as 39-year-old Norberto Nieblas Reyes.

Reyes died at a Modesto hospital after being shot during a struggle with officers earlier in the day.

Two Los Banos officers responded to the Pacheco Village apartments on Gilbert Gonzalez Jr. Drive at 6:18 a.m. Monday and found Nieblas Reyes inside his estranged wife’s apartment. Family members told police he got into the apartment through a window.

Law enforcement sources have said that Nieblas Reyes fought with two officers and managed to grab one of their guns and shoot them both. The two officers, whose names have not been released, were in stable condition Tuesday at a Modesto hospital, Cmdr. Ray Reyna said.

One officer was shot once in the upper torso. The other officer was shot in the head, torso and leg.

“He has injuries that are severe, and which will probably take longer to recover,” Reyna said, noting that there wasn’t a timetable for recovery.

Reyna expects the investigation to take several days, adding that the police department is working with the California Department of Justice.

Reyna said the police department plans to release the officers’ names later this week.

Records show Monday’s encounter wasn’t the first time Nieblas Reyes confronted police and that he had a history of drug use and threatening his wife and children.

Nieblas Reyes most recently was booked into Merced County Jail on Jan. 30 for drug possession, driving with a revoked license and resisting and obstructing officers, booking records show.

In reports filed in Merced County Superior Court, Sgt. Mark Taylor responded to Reyna Garcia’s home in Stevinson where Nieblas Reyes showed up. Reyna and Nieblas Reyes are separated and have five children together, according to court records.

Taylor issued an emergency protective order against Nieblas Reyes and told him he had to leave. “I tried repeating myself over and over again that he needed to pick up his bags and leave now, but he continued to ignore me,” Taylor said in his report.

Nieblas Reyes began resisting Taylor and it took two deputies to wrestle him to the ground and arrest him.

In a phone interview on Tuesday, Taylor recalled the incident as well as multiple other experiences with Nieblas Reyes.

“He was obviously troubled,” Taylor said. “He did not want to do what he was told. He would talk to us. Sometimes he wouldn’t make sense. He would always make religious quotes to justify his behavior.”

Two days later, Nieblas Reyes’ wife filed a restraining order against him in Merced Superior Court saying Nieblas Reyes broke into her Stevinson home at 3 a.m. and threatened her with cooking knives. By the time law enforcement arrived, she managed to take the knives away from him, the reports say.

Nieblas Reyes’ former landlord also filed a restraining order against him, saying he had mental health issues and drug problems, court records show. The landlord, a 77-year-old Stevinson woman, said Nieblas Reyes returned repeatedly to her property, forcing her to call Merced County Sheriff’s deputies to resolve the problem.

Nieblas later pleaded no contest in Merced Superior Court to the resisting and obstructing charges and was sentenced to three years probation, court records show.

Jail records also show Nieblas Reyes’ struggles with substance abuse.

In August 2016 he was booked into Merced County Jail on public intoxication. In 2013 and 2014, he was booked for possession of a controlled substance and DUI.

Brianna Calix: 209-385-2477