Sacramento County Sheriff's deputies are seen at a burning building on June 25, 2022. A California man, Brandon Falconer, stands accused of holding his son hostage and setting fire to their North Highlands apartment. Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District photo.
A video released by authorities in California appears to portray a harrowing showdown between a man holding a blade to a 2-year-old boy’s neck and Sacramento law enforcement officers and firefighters.
Captured by cameras mounted on the body armor of sheriff’s deputies, the footage of the early June 25 incident at a North Highlands apartment complex was released on Tuesday, Sept. 6.
The knife-wielding man, 34-year-old Brandon Rayscott Falconer, remains incarcerated in the Rio Cosumnes Correctional Center, charged with attempted murder, arson, corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant, endangering a child, and destroying wireless communications to prevent someone from requesting assistance.
“Get closer, and I’ll end him,” Falconer appears to shout at the deputies, stepping from behind a wall to show the boy, the blade held to his neck, their room barricaded with a broken door and a dresser.
In a video released to the public, Brandon Falconer yells at Sacramento County Sheriff’s deputies to “please shoot me” several times on June 25, 2022. Still from Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office video.
Called a “community debrief video,” the footage is designed to showcase interagency work involving the fire and sheriff’s departments, but it also sheds light on an ongoing prosecution that’s largely played out in courtrooms, away from the public.
Footage appears to show Falconer tossing a lamp at deputies and pleading with them to “please shoot me in the head.”
Authorities say Falconer also set fire to the residence, complicating an already dire standoff.
“Then the fire started,” said a sheriff’s sergeant in the video. “That added more, more of a ‘what the hell do I do now?’ Yeah, now it just upped the game to where we have to do something. Do I force [my deputies] to go in now and take the chance of the same outcome of him harming the baby? Do we wait it out and the fire builds, and we lose our opportunity?”
As a fire builds, Sacramento County Sheriff’s deputies continue covering the hallway during what authorities say was a tense hostage standoff on June 25, 2022. Still from Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office video.
As smoke rolls through the building, the video appears to show Falconer retreating with the boy to a bathroom attached to the master bedroom.
Deputies try breaking through glass patio doors to reach them, but the flames grow, and heat and smoke push them back. They decide to send in the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District crews waiting in the parking lot.
A "sea full of cop cars," according to the video, initially blocked the firefighters in, but then they're seen moving into the building, as residents flee the flames by rushing in the opposite direction.
Inside, firefighters found deputies had already bored a hole between the bathroom and an adjacent but vacant flat. But the video appears to show Falconer trying to stuff the chasm with pieces of drywall and insulation to block rescuers from entering.
Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office broke through a side patio door to gain access to the master bedroom where they believed Brandon Falconer was holding a 2-year-old hostage on June 25, 2022. Still from Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office video.
Fire Capt. Sean Lemon is then seen trying to use a Halligan tool to carve out a bigger hole to reach Falconer and the boy. He realizes the job calls for a chain saw.
Firefighter Tucker Hodge starts sawing through the thick wall, ripping through plumbing and electrical wiring to expand the hole so he can climb through it.
Hodge then sees the child under a running faucet in the bathtub. Falconer appears unconscious, overcome by smoke inhalation.
Hodge shoves his body out of the way, grabs the boy, and hands him to deputies on the other side of the hole.
Then a camera captures him hauling out Falconer.
Sacramento Sheriff’s deputies tried to break into the master bedroom where they believed Brandon Falconer was holding a 2-year-old hostage on June 25, 2022. But heat and smoke turned them away. Still from Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office video.
Authorities say emergency responders rushed the 2-year-old and Falconer to separate hospitals. The boy was treated for smoke inhalation and burn wounds. Discharged from the hospital on July 11, he has been placed with a foster family, they say.
Falconer underwent extensive care for the same injuries. He was discharged from the hospital on July 13 and was booked into jail.
Falconer’s court-appointed attorney did not respond to Coffee or Die Magazine requests for comment.
The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office also declined further comment.
You can check the video out here.
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Joshua Skovlund is a former staff writer for Coffee or Die. He has covered the 75th anniversary of D-Day in France, multinational military exercises in Germany, and civil unrest during the 2020 riots in Minneapolis. Born and raised in small-town South Dakota, he grew up playing football and soccer before serving as a forward observer in the US Army. After leaving the service, he worked as a personal trainer while earning his paramedic license. After five years as in paramedicine, he transitioned to a career in multimedia journalism. Joshua is married with two children. His creative outlets include Skovlund Photography and Concentrated Emotion.
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