Watsonville Police on Tuesday arrested a murder suspect after an hours-long standoff in a strawberry field near Trafton and McGowan roads, just outside Pájaro.

Hector Rocha, 44, of Watsonville, has been charged with first-degree murder. He was booked into Santa Cruz County Jail, where he is being held without bail, jail records showed.

Hector Rocha
Hector Rocha

At about 8:45pm on Monday, officers responded to the 100 block of West Beach Street for reports of a shooting. They found a 42-year-old man suffering from gunshot wounds. He died at the scene despite lifesaving efforts. 

Detectives identified Rocha as the suspect, and his green 1967 Chevrolet single-cab truck, with rust throughout the body and a white roof. 

On Tuesday morning, a community member reported that they saw the truck in an agricultural field. Officers responded to the area before noon and found Rocha inside.

He refused to come out of the truck for more than four hours, and during that time, crisis negotiators remained in contact with the suspect and eventually convinced him to surrender.   

Watsonville Police were assisted by Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office, Santa Cruz Police Department, Monterey County Sheriff’s Office, California Highway Patrol, Santa Cruz County Anti-Crime Team and Santa Cruz Auto Theft Reduction and Enforcement Task Force.

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General assignment reporter, covering nearly every beat. I specialize in feature stories, but equally skilled in hard and spot news. Pajaronian/Good Times/Press Banner reporter honored by CSBA.


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