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Northern Calif. police standoff continues, as freeway reopens
SAN RAFAEL, Calif. (AP) ' A Northern California highway that was closed because of gunfire reopened Thursday morning, as the standoff between the suspected gunman and police entered its second day.
Interstate 580 in San Rafael reopened around 4:30 a.m. after authorities used a crane to move a large sheet of steel in front of the window of the nearby hotel room where the suspected gunman is holed up, authorities said.
Police are still negotiating with the man, who has not been identified. He is a suspect in a stabbing Sunday at a supermarket in San Rafael and is in the hotel room with his girlfriend.
San Rafael police spokeswoman Margo Rohrbacher said officers are concerned for the woman's safety and are treating the case as a hostage situation.
The standoff began Wednesday morning after police tracked the man to the hotel.
A gunshot fired from the room prompted them to stop traffic on the section of Interstate 580 that includes the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, authorities said.
"The shot that he fired went toward the freeway," California Highway Patrol Sgt. Trent Cross said. "Bullets can be unpredictable, so we wanted to be sure no one was harmed while driving by. So we shut down the bridge and the freeway."
The bridge reopened shortly after noon along with eastbound lanes of the freeway. The section of the interstate that remained closed until Thursday morning was between U.S. Highway 101 and Sir Francis Drake Boulevard.
The man in the hotel room is suspected of taking groceries from the supermarket and leaving without paying on Sunday, according to Rohrbacher.
He was brought back inside the store for questioning before he threatened an employee and held a knife to the person's throat, authorities said.
The suspect ran out of the store with several employees in pursuit, and an employee was stabbed in the chest, Rohrbacher said. The clerk's injuries were not serious, she said.