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Fremont man dies days after fiery standoff with police, firefighters

FREMONT -- A man who threatened to open fire on police and firefighters outside his Fremont home as he attempted to burn the residence died at a hospital days after the end of an hours-long standoff, police said Thursday.

The incident happened on May 20 at an apartment on the 46000 block of Winema Common just south of Mission Boulevard and west of Interstate Highway 880. Fremont police officers responded just after 9 a.m. to help the Fremont Fire Department with a fire that involved a person inside an apartment who didn't want to come out.

Just before, a reporting party had requested a welfare check on a resident in the apartment building, advising that the resident had set his unit on fire and was refusing to leave.

According to a police press release, firefighters then tried to enter the apartment to rescue the man inside, identified as William Farris, but that Farris yelled out he had a gun and ordered firefighters to leave. He continued threatening firefighters as they attempted to convince him to leave and firefighters were forced to back off. At that point, police set up a containment perimeter and evacuated surrounding apartments.

SWAT officers with gas masks and police negotiators came out to communicate with the suspect. Police also deployed an armored vehicle equipped with oxygen for first responders and firefighters, along with a second armored vehicle with a firehose attachment.

Despite a large amount of smoke in the apartment, Farris refused to come outside. For hours, negotiators pleaded with him to exit, warning about the dangerous amount of smoke he was inhaling and urging him to at least open doors and windows to ventilate.

During the negotiations, firefighters were pouring water on sporadic fires from a distance, police said.

At about 2:53 p.m., officers finally found an opportunity to approach Farris and began to physically struggle with him when he refused to comply with orders, police said. He was eventually taken into custody and officers walked him outside, where he was tended to by medics. 

According to police, while Farris was receiving medical attention he had an "emergency medical episode." He was taken to a hospital in critical condition and his condition deteriorated over the next day. On Sunday, he was taken off of life-support and was pronounced dead shortly after. 

The Alameda County Coroner's Office will determine the cause of death, while the Alameda County District Attorney's Office was also investigating.

Police urged anyone with information about the incident to contact Detective Jake Blass at 510-790-6963 or at

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