Father arrested at gunpoint by ICE officers with riot shield

Alberto Alonso Hernandez was taken into custody Tuesday in front of his wife and daughters in their home on 43rd Street.
San Diego Union-Tribune

A father who had previously been removed from the U.S. was arrested Tuesday in his home after immigration officers pried open the back door with a crowbar and entered with guns drawn and carrying a riot shield.

Alberto Alonso Hernandez, 31, was targeted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement because of his immigration and criminal history, according to Lauren Mack, a spokeswoman for the agency.

For the record:
7:50 PM, May. 09, 2018 An earlier version of this article misspelled Judge Bernard Skomal’s last name as Skomel.

“ICE records reveal he was convicted for battery of a spouse in 2007, and has illegally re-entered the United States 16 times since 2003,” Mack said.

Alonso’s wife Brianna, who is a U.S. citizen, disputed the agency’s claims about her husband’s past. She remembered Alonso being deported twice, not 16 times. A statement from ICE requesting a warrant for Alonso cited two removals, one in 2008 and one in 2015.


Brianna Alonso, 32, also did not think her husband was convicted of any domestic violence charges. The San Diego Union-Tribune searched several databases and could not locate court records for the reported 2007 conviction. ICE confirmed that the conviction happened in San Diego but had not responded to a request for more details in time for publication.

Alonso’s wife said they hadn’t tried to get Alonso a green card when they first got married because they didn’t have enough money.

ICE officers tried to arrest Alonso on Tuesday as he left for work that morning shortly after 6:30 a.m. He fled back into his house and hid upstairs with his family. Passersby and family friends began to congregate outside the home in support of the family.

The officers turned the electricity to the house off to try to get him to come out. The agency then got federal Judge Bernard Skomal to sign a warrant for Alonso’s arrest on a charge of illegal reentry so that officers would have the right to enter the home.


“ERO officers attempted to arrest Mr. Alonso-Hernandez during a vehicle stop near this residence,” Mack said. “The suspect fled from the scene and hid inside his house, forcing the officers to obtain a criminal arrest warrant for illegal re-entering the United States.”

Around 10 a.m., ICE officers began trying to enter the home.

Alonso’s 11-year-old daughter Jocelyn showed the Union-Tribune where the metal mesh on the front door was detached from the frame, which she said the officers pulled apart. She showed where officers had cut a chain locking the gate to the backyard and where they broke the back door to get it open.

Jocelyn filmed the scene as she and her step-mother Brianna Alonso yelled for ICE officers to show them a warrant.

“We’ll show you the warrant when we’re done,” one of the officers responded as he worked to open the metal door, according to the video viewed by the San Diego Union-Tribune.

When the door opened, an officer clutching a riot shield in one hand and a gun in the other came in first as an officer yelled for everyone to show their hands. Another officer pointed his gun at the family members.

Brianna Alonso continued to ask for the warrant.

“You don’t control the situation. We do,” an officer responded. “We’ll give you the warrant when we’re done.”


Jocelyn said that one officer grabbed her wrist, leaving a temporary red mark, and took her phone to delete the video she was recording. (She was later able to recover it, she said.)

Another family member continued filming as Alonso was handcuffed and taken out the door. After the officers were out of the home, one reached his arm through the doorway and dropped the warrant on the floor.

Pedro Rios of American Friends Service Committee, who was notified about the situation by someone in the neighborhood, documented the scene as a human rights observer. He saw the two officers with guns point them at a child’s face in a second floor window.

“I certainly think it’s excessive,” Rios said of the officers’ arrest tactics. “Pointing multiple guns at children, I think, is excessive.”

Ginger Jacobs, an immigration attorney in San Diego, said that Alonso’s arrest may have been unlawful and that because of that, a federal judge might throw out the criminal reentry charges brought against him.

The Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure require officers to show the warrant at the time of the arrest to the person being arrested.

As the officers tried to leave the scene, community members blocked several of their vehicles until they turned the home’s electricity back on.

Brianna Alonso met with an attorney late in the afternoon Tuesday and returned home to find many of her friends gathered in her front yard. They consoled her and watched as Telemundo aired a story on the family’s situation.


“I’m still in shock completely,” Brianna Alonso said. “It hurts me because my kids saw everything. They don’t have no need to see them with guns and screaming.”

She said she would’ve let the officers in if they showed her the warrant.

“In my mind, I thought, ‘They’re lying,’ because I don’t see it,” she said.

Alonso was the sole bread winner for their home which included their five children, Brianna Alonso’s mother and a couple of extended family members. Their daughter’s First Communion is scheduled for this Saturday.

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