Hotel Gunman Found Dead, Girlfriend Safe

Police lost contact with a man holed up inside Extended Stay Deluxe on East Francisco Boulevard since Wednesday morning.

After a 28-hour standoff, SWAT teams entered the room of a gunman in an East San Rafael hotel and found him dead, said police spokesperson Margo Rohrbacher.

Peter James Thomas, 38, holed up inside his room with a gun at the on East Francisco Boulevard mid-morning Wednesday after police tried to arrest the man for a San Rafael supermarket stabbing last Sunday.

negotiators tried throughout the day and night to talk Thomas out of his room — where he was believed to be holding his girlfriend — but he remained inside until SWAT teams entered after sending a camera through a hole they cut in an adjacent wall just before 1 p.m.

Thomas was found dead from a self-flicted gunshot wound, police said.

Thomas was wanted by the Department for previous burglary charges, and drug and weapons violations. His warrant was for $70,000.

Thomas’s girlfriend was found on another floor and is currently in police custody and safe, according to police.

San Rafael Police said they went to the hotel around 8:30 a.m. Wednesday after receiving a tip the stabbing suspect was staying at the hotel. A single shot was fired by Thomas out of a second floor hotel room window around 10:45 a.m. — toward I-580 — prompting road closures and evacuation of the hotel.

A mile-long plus stretch of I-580, from Sir Francis Drake to Highway 101, was closed from mid-morning Wednesday until 12:40 a.m. Thursday, said Kurtis Skoog of the Sausalito Police Department.

Police were able to place a one-inch-thick piece of steel in front of the gunman's hotel room window, blocking his ability to fire any more shots toward I-580. This made it safe for I-580 to reopen, Skoog said early Thursday morning.

Wednesday night’s rush hour commute was horrible for people trying to reach San Rafael via I-580 and to pass along Highway 101, according to the California Highway Patrol that reported commutes of three hours and more in the area.

All roads are now open, Rohrbacher said.

The 46 hotel guests evacuated Wednesday morning from the hotel were relocated to a variety of San Rafael hotels. Rorhbacher said Extended Stay staff arranged for the guests to be moved — all without their belongings — at around 5 p.m.

A family of four from England trying to get home Wednesday night was unable to retrieve anything from the hotel room, extending their trip for at least one more day.

All the family's belongings, passports and their plane tickets were still in their second floor hotel room when they were evacuated. The mother and both teenaged children left with friends from San Rafael, the father said, as he remained behind, trying to gather their belongings in time to make a 7:15 p.m. flight from San Francisco International Airport to London.

Rohrbacher informed the father she could not let him in to their hotel room or arrange for the family to get their belongings, so the family’s nightmarish 6-week vacation has yet to end.

"This has been an awful holiday, and now we end it with this," the father said Wednesday, adding his son spent three weeks of their vacation in the hospital.

Ratu and Susana Sanchez were staying in the hotel two doors down from the suspect. Their 1-year-old daughter went out in the hall when the shooting occurred and they were asked to leave by police.

"It was so scary," Susana said. "He started acting crazy."

No businesses in the area were evacuated Wednesday, Rohrbacher said, but employees and customers were told to stay inside the buildings early in the day. As late afternoon approached, police asked the businesses to send employees home early to try and avoid the traffic congestion.

Thomas and walked out without paying, according to police. He was stopped and brought back inside the store, where he was questioned. During the questioning, he threatened an employee and held a knife to the person's throat, police said.

Police said he ran out of the store and several employees chased him. He unsuccessfully attempted to stab an employee from the meat section, but then stabbed a clerk in the chest. The victim's injuries were superficial, police said, and that he was treated and released.

Steven Norwin August 21, 2011 at 06:24 AM
I have the right to bear Arms...It's in the amendment. I do not have a right to committ a crime! Don't take my right away because someone else doesn't play by the rules!
VivaCromwell August 22, 2011 at 07:24 PM
Steven, hate to say it you are wrong buddy. He was not a bad person I know him from ages 17 - 22 and he was from a very good family. He was a wonderful happy go lucky teenager who was looking for life and identity .. sadly he found drugs -- which is a disease by the american medical assoc. for a reason -- it's a progressive disease and when you go to jail, there is no such thing as rehabilitation.. there's "survival" pete was a young kid the first time he went to jail and he learned the violent behavior there.. from the abusive preditorial nature of our prison system.. and now they want to privatize prisons to profit off of them (WHATS the country coming to?) .. I have no doubt that Pete had become a person to be feared on drugs.. sadly there is just no way to justify his behavior and he is accountable for his actions.. as he paid the ultimate price.. his life.. somewhere out there a mother is weeping, in shock and disbelief that this is what her son had become and ended. Just maybe people should think twice, because it could happen to your own children or brother.. it's time we start helping these addicts and not let the system push them into a life of crime and violence.
VivaCromwell August 22, 2011 at 07:24 PM
THis did not have to happen and deep inside me I am saddened that my friend became this desperate and could not get the help he needed. It's not a fixed idea to say, "hey I want to be a drug addict" it's a progressive illness that needs to be treated like any other. I'll always remember that happy teenager who had a smile on him that drew you in.. where and what happened to him these past 20 years that it came to this?
Christine August 22, 2011 at 08:35 PM
Would you still think he was a good person if innocent lives were taken during his violent behavior? He was a very dangerous criminal who held a knive on someones throat. What a horrilbe death his victim would have had. Please don't tell me what he was like years ago....That was then and this is now!
VivaCromwell August 22, 2011 at 08:54 PM
Christine.. read the story.. not everything in life is so black and white. What would you do if you were desperate for a meal? How far would you take it? Count your blessings. I am not excusing his behavior at all whatsoever.. I am simply saying that a man -- out of desperation -- took his own llfe.. and to compare that to inconvenient traffic is disgraceful. NO WHERE do I condone his behavior.. 20 years ago he was just like every other teenager.. and was a GOOD PERSON. I have not spoken to him in 20 years and I can't help but ask myself, "How did this fun loving good kid, end up like that?" did I say he was a good person for the violence that transpired that lead up to his death? No I did not, nor do I know that person that did. You sound like every other spoiled and sheltered entitled princess that can't process things objectively or see outside the box. You'll never get it. You don't have the depth of character to read what I said and process it objectively. Were you the English lady who missed her flight?
Steven Norwin August 22, 2011 at 08:54 PM
Obviously he was not the nice person you knew 20 yrs ago. Drug addicts choose a life a crime to get money for their addiction. Don't blame in ALL on the jails. He took his own life so don't blame society...What about his vitims? He may have murdered someone for drugs who knows? I do know he was not a good person and a very dangerous one. I hope to never cross paths with people like him!
VivaCromwell August 22, 2011 at 08:57 PM
Christine just embelish a little more why don't you.. let your imagination run wild sweetheart.. keep going with your fantasy if that makes you happy. Enjoy.
Jane Gray August 22, 2011 at 09:01 PM
VIVA I HAVE TO SAY THANK YOU, I AGREE WITH YOUR COMMENT'S AND I DID NOT KNOW HIM. If a person is not familiar of what our prison system has become(yes, I have officer's in my family) they would never know what you are talking about. I hate to see loss of ANY life. I believe in redemtion, that people can go down to the matt at the bottom, even murder,and can still ask, and be saved to a new life (sorry to those who hate this) a new life in Christ, it has happened and still is happening. We have far too many youngsters who go towards pot then and drugs , then worse drugs, worse crime to attain drugs, and the list is two 2 years long ? to rehab I recently read. I appreciate your comments viva, and thank you for telling people what this young man was before he made some really bad decision's. Prison's in California especially are full of the people who did not heed what they were told by parents or authorities, who took the wrong paths away from some saddness, or greed, or shame, or poor up bringing, who did not listen to advice or want it,,, who say that pot should be legalized, and say it is harmless, just because some don't go farther into drugs (often self medicating with substance's) who went the wrong way toward a "good feeling, or good feeling about themselves). continued . Sincerely, j of Marin.
Christine August 22, 2011 at 09:01 PM
The man had knives and guns and used them! He was not a good person. He was a very dangerous man who would have killed someone. I have no tolerence for crime especially when an innocent life is in danger!
Jane Gray August 22, 2011 at 09:03 PM
continued,,,,,,,I pray each day we help them, we needed rehabilitation in our prison's long ago, oft times just warehousing the sick,mentally ill, full of hate or rebellion. Johnny Cash, was one I admired. If everyone just gives up on someone, they have nothing left,,, but to find redemtion, sometimes it takes death coming to find it
Christine August 22, 2011 at 09:07 PM
You're Welcome!
VivaCromwell August 22, 2011 at 09:37 PM
Jane, one mistake people make way too often is that they say pot is the gateway drug.. and that is a big farse. The real gateway drug is Alcohol. People seem to think because it's legal that it doesn't count. Thank you for your feedback as well.
VivaCromwell August 22, 2011 at 09:38 PM
Jane they are going in the wrong direction. Now they are privatizing prisons, that's what they are calling it. What they are really doing is creating, "for profit prisons" .. the more inmates the more $$ .. can we really go any further in the wrong direction before people wake up?
janna nikkola August 23, 2011 at 12:38 AM
Viva, It's true prisons are hellish places -- so how much more in taxes are you personally willing to pay to build more prisons and to pay for rehabilitation of the prison population? People who are addicted to drugs do need help --so how much more in taxes are you personally willing to pay for this rehabilitation? It costs the State of California alone $1 billion a year to house prisoners who are illegal immigrants. The US has only 5% of the world's population but we have approximately 25% of the world's prison population. It's definitely not a good situation, but given the lack of resources, I'd rather see my taxes spent on educating our kids to the point where our country has the largest percentage of college-education citizens in the world and solidifying Social Security and Medicare to provide some security for our seniors who have worked all their lives and counted on SS for a more secure retirement. But that's just me.
janna nikkola August 23, 2011 at 12:48 AM
Viva, despite his dastardly deeds, I'm glad that someone remembers him as the person he once was.Somewhere there's a grieving mother who probably did the best she knew how to do in rearing him, but once he got hooked on drugs, he was no longer the same person and the drugs took over. I was a single mother raising a daugher on my own and I was very lucky that she never got into drugs or hung with the wrong crowd, but was always a good student, a responsible person and went out into the world and became a productive member of society. I thank God every day for my good fortune.
Jane Gray August 23, 2011 at 02:21 AM
I SEE YOUR COMMENT VIVA, AND SORRY, we will have to agree to disagree on this one,, POT should never be legal or alcohol really,,,, so many say what your saying, and think it is a harmless recreation smoke,,,,,,NOPE, continued
Jane Gray August 23, 2011 at 02:22 AM
I know too many who thought that and ended up imprisoned, in or out of the prison. I have family, I have done my homework for many years, POT used by my uncles, nearly ruined them, and did ruin their marraiges, my grandson just got clean from drugs, started with " harmless POT use",,, I know ciggs are as bad, so why smoke anything? I can be high on life, never will ever smoke a thing, I was very addicted to ciggs, and NOW they have PROVEN POT is bad, bad for your brain, stunts the forearms of teen boys, and definately leads many to think is is OKAY to GET LOADED on stoking a joint. continued
Jane Gray August 23, 2011 at 02:23 AM
I know what you all say, I was also in the medical field for over 30 years Viva, and I nursed pot heads, and women drug dealers dieing at home, one of the biggest dealers lived in Tiboron on the water,and said she would give anything to start over again, she was dieing Viva, lungs, and pot use, drugs then dope shot in the arms,,,, she said she had furs, cars and boyfriends and NOTHING is good enough to lose your life over drugs, to INCLUDE POT.
Jane Gray August 23, 2011 at 02:23 AM
I know from nursing, we HAVE legal drugs to help the sick, my dad, grandma, aunts and uncles, one niece , all died of cancer, most were smokers of ciggs and some Pot. Better safe than sorry, I know people can live without it. Go to your doctor, get some help before your life ends way way too soon please, for goodness sakes, you can enjoy life. I quit smoking over 40 years ago, it was very addictive. I never touched POT and will keep praying for those who do. The only farce is that it is harmless, is not addictive when it is,,,, getting that FEELING it gives is just as addictive as getting buzzed on beer or lots of drinks. Drinks are bad too, so is cheating, lieing and stealing, so I am not singling anyone person out,,,, get help! Life is too short, and we now have many ways to quit. And by the way, pot use is inside of prisons also, smuggled in by visitors ,inmates and guards also- greed driven, many who dont smoke it sell it. Thanks for your input, loved your compassion. Without compassion, love, we would all become some pretty harsh people. I don't believe in crime, killing of anyone, and am not a soft bleeding heart, but I do have compassion along with my convictions. jane
VivaCromwell August 23, 2011 at 02:54 AM
woah. I don't even smoke pot. I'm saying it starts with alcohol and then goes to pot, but people think pot is the gateway drug which is wrong.. it's alcohol first pot second for most that i talk to.
Jane Gray August 23, 2011 at 03:39 AM
Viva, I would think some who are smoker's who don't like alcohol, and try pot, go on to other drugs but not always,,,,we tend to assume, I misunderstood what you meant, I hear that and I remember a dentist year's ago, who said his daughter would never date anyone who smoked. We all have our thresholds, tolerance, and I know there is a lot of pot around, too many people must go to AA meetings all the time, I was pretty suprised when I first came to Marin Co at all the AA meetings. I can have one drink, like a margareta with my mexican dinner,and that is it. I was once married to an alcoholic whose whole family were, I was young and did not know. My mom and dad had one drink with Christmas, an eggnog, but we began to have it straight with no alcohol, I dont have to have a drink at all. I love life in general, I have a passion for people and painting paintings,murals and such and truely enjoy myself. I wish you well. Sincerely jane
Bob August 24, 2011 at 04:41 PM
Well said, Steve.
gillian ellson September 27, 2011 at 05:31 AM
I just want to thank you for your kind remarks regarding Pete. I did know him vey well, and despsite what all these mean-spirited, hateful people have to say -- he did have alot of love in his heart, but also alot of pain... as does his poor mother now. People should look within and try to become better people, rather than sit in judgement of others. Thank you again for showing some decency and compassion for a fellow human being, and friend. May he rest in peace.
David harris December 24, 2011 at 10:56 AM
Peter was my friend and roommate, the last time I saw him was a few days prior to his death. Only those who have been addicted to drugs and/or been to prison could ever know how peter was feeling. I hope all who were wronged by him can find forgiveness in their hearts. He was my friend and I will miss him. See u on the other side brother.
Jane Gray December 24, 2011 at 07:43 PM
Thank you David, for some kind words here about your friend. You are the kind of friend who sticks closer than a brother, that is good. I am sure others saw that this guy was headed for trouble, but many will not listen to words of wisdom. I did not know him, but have seen and known many, I think of Don in the mountians where I once lived. Don came from a large family of boys, they played with my children, Don was the oldest. He was into drugs in high school, he had a ruff up bringing, his parents divorced after Don was committed for a while,,,, he would sit in the back of his dads pickup, and rock. He once told me he could see two images at a time, one in one eye and one in the other. Don was given some bad "dust" and lost his mind for a time. He wandered around the roads, everyone knew Don, a likable kid who really had screwed up his life. He finally was able to work with his father doing gardening,,,, and began to regain his life, he saved his money and had a girlfriend , his smile returned from his former blank stares. Don bought a truck of his own and got a drivers license finally, he was on his way, we were all so happy for him,,,,, then one day, Don was not there anymore, he had a relapse, he rocked again, he lost it all,,,,,,,,,,drugs are damaging, drugs are not really "fun", they rob you of your own self control,, that is a gift to have your own self control. Given to drug use, you lose your life so often.
Jane Gray December 24, 2011 at 07:48 PM
continued from above: May God help all the Don's who run the streets,,,,who rob their families and neighbors for drug money, who steal and hold up merchants who work hard for their money, who lose their loved ones to shame. Our prisons are full of "Don's" who thought pot use was cool, who just "knew" they could handle it, who smoke a joint to " feel " good, I pray for you this holiday season. Get help, please get help, before you "rock".
Mesohappi July 06, 2012 at 05:32 PM
People never cease to amaze me. I knew the gunman personally. He was a friend of mine. Sadly, he WAS a victim. Yes, he inflicted harm onto others, but he was also hurting very badly. You people watch the media and listen to the news and believe that it is gospel! They didn't report that in the past he had been brutally assaulted by police in a mistaken identity arrest. Before you are so quick to label someone the "DREGGS OF SOCIETY" polluting your PRECIOUS Marin County, why don't you take the time to find out what is really going on and think for YOURSELF, instead of believing everything the news spits onto you. Pete Thomas was a real man. Not just "another junkie ruining your town". He was a very hurting, confused individual. More often than not, the police are negligent and unprofessional and actually perpetuate the chaos in these circumstances. I know this first hand as I was raised by cops. You don't hear that in the news. Think outside the box for once and have some compassion. Stop living like the spoiled rotten, fearful drones of society.
Mesohappi July 06, 2012 at 05:38 PM
AMEN. And Thank YOU. I knew Pete also. What a tragic, horrible thing to happen to such a bright man with so very much potential. Even though this happened almost a year ago, I still am in disbelief at what happened. I remember one time he told me, "I will never go back to prison again. No matter what." He was more serious than I ever realized. RIP Pete.
Susan Clark July 06, 2012 at 05:58 PM
Yeah, every idiot meaning criminal. Those who go thru legal channels have guns strickly for protection or hunting. Get a grip.....criminals will always be able to get a gun even if it's illegal. Don't take my right away because you don't like guns. Guns protect!
Mesohappi July 06, 2012 at 06:12 PM
BTW- STEVEN: I knew Pete right before his death and he was NOT the horrible monster that you insist he must've been. He was an amazing man who's life had been ravaged by drugs. Yes, he made the choice to use them. However, when he was not under the influence, he was not violent, vindictive or hateful. He was gentle, compassionate and cared deeply for his friends and family. Drugs change who you are at a fundamental level. He responded out of fear of going back to prison. I know this for a fact. What he did was selfish and horrifying, but he was not a "BAD" person. He made the poor choices that led him to a desperate situation in which he responded desperately to. I grieve the loss of those who really KNEW and loved Pete for who he truly was.


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