A Silicon Valley homeowner unwittingly welcomed a fugitive into his home and shared a meal with the wanted man as California law enforcement officers canvassed the neighborhood in a manhunt, police said on Tuesday.
Police in Palo Alto launched the search after receiving an emergency call on Monday about a possible fraudulent bank transaction linked to a man wanted in Oklahoma for a sex crime with a minor, the city's police department said.
Officers tried to nab 35-year-old Dominique Tabb of San Francisco at the bank, but he hopped a fence and ran into a residential neighborhood where officers began a yard-to-yard search, Palo Alto Detective Sergeant Brian Philip said.
A homeowner in his 60s saw Tabb in his yard with some minor scrapes, and Tabb told him that assailants had beaten him up and that he was trying to escape, police said. Believing his story, the homeowner invited Tabb into his home and they shared a meal.
"In his mind it appears he was helping a person out and doing him a favour and getting him out of harm's way," Philip said. "Fortunately nothing bad happened."
Police used a phone system to call residents in the area and give them a recorded description of the suspect. At one point, the homeowner received that call, but he disregarded it because he did not believe Tabb matched the description, police said.
More than four hours after he brought Tabb into his home, the man went out to drive him to San Francisco or a nearby train station, police said.
A patrol officer saw the pair and arrested Tabb, who was booked into Santa Clara County jail on suspicion of check fraud and misdemeanour resisting arrest, as well as the outstanding warrant from Oklahoma, police said.