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Lockdown, Robbery Occupy Cops
California Avenue Elementary and Cardozo Middle School in Riverbank went on full lockdown Thursday, Sept. 6 when police surrounded a nearby apartment complex housing a man suspected of attempted murder.

Robert Michael Cortez, 28, of Riverbank was taken into custody following a four-hour standoff with the Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department SWAT team that ended after officers lobbed a tear gas canister through the window of the ground floor apartment, forcing the man's surrender.

According to police reports, Cortez was suspected of shooting another Riverbank man, Jason Lee, 35, in the abdomen and wounding him critically the day before. Lee was transported to a Modesto area hospital where he underwent surgery and was listed as critical but stable. Police said Cortez shot Lee because Lee was arguing with a buddy of Cortez over a woman. The argument occurred at a home in the 3600 block of Virginia Avenue, less than a block east from where the standoff occurred.

Cortez's friend, William Garrett, is wanted by police for his part in the shooting and may face attempted murder charges as well.

Sheriff's spokesperson Deputy Royjinder Singh said SWAT was called because detectives wanted to take extra precautions since Cortez was considered armed and dangerous. Cortez did not have any weapons on him when he surrendered.

Although police released the lockdown earlier in the standoff, school officials decided to release students to parents who'd come to the campus but none that had to walk past the scene.

"The majority of the kids walk past that apartment complex," Singh said. "And school officials didn't want the students walking through the hot zone."