HomeCity NewsFormer School Board Candidate Held On Multiple Felony Charges

Former School Board Candidate Held On Multiple Felony Charges

The car John Gabriel drove to his former Sherwood Rd. home last Wednesday night that contained drugs, according to authorities. Photo by Mitch Lehman
Former San Marino resident John Gabriel remains in custody following an incident that took place in the late night hours of Wednesday, Sept. 11 and ended the following morning at his former residence in the 2100 block of Sherwood Road. Bail has been set at $2.335 million for Gabriel, who was a candidate for what at the time were three open seats on the San Marino school board at the November 2018 election. He faces ten felony charges of making criminal threats, personal use of a firearm, child abuse, possession of an altered firearm and six counts of possession of a controlled substance for sale. The two misdemeanor charges are for exhibiting a firearm and resisting an executive officer.

A source told The Tribune that the district attorney’s office requested a $3 million bail, but the figure was reduced to $2.335 million

Apparently estranged from his family, Gabriel arrived at his former Sherwood Rd. home at approximately 10:00 p.m. Wednesday night. After a verbal confrontation, Gabriel threatened family members with a gun. The San Marino Police Department was contacted with a request for assistance. Upon arrival of officers, Gabriel was observed inside the residence holding a dark object and yelling at several people inside the home. Four members of the family ran from the suspect to officers in front of the residence, two children and their grandmother however, remained inside the home.

SMPD personnel removed the residents from the scene, secured the area around the house and requested additional assistance from neighboring police agencies. It was verified that two children and their grandmother were still inside the residence and that Gabriel was armed with a handgun. Gabriel refused repeated orders to exit the home and surrender to police.

John Gabriel, shown here during an October 2018 candidate’s forum when he was running for a seat on the San Marino School Board. Rafael Najarian Photo

“Since the suspect refused to surrender and two children and their grandmother were still inside the residence, it was determined that the incident had escalated to a barricaded hostage situation,” said San Marino Police Chief John Incontro. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Special Enforcement Bureau (SEB) was contacted to assist.

SEB attempted to negotiate the release of the hostages and Gabriel’s surrender, but he again refused to comply. SEB initiated a hostage rescue, during which numerous diversionary devices were utilized and the three remaining family members were safely removed from the residence.

Incontro told The Tribune that special agents employed “flash-bangs,” which create pulses of bright light and concussive sounds meant to disorient the suspect. Residents reported the sound made by the devices to The Tribune as well as the presence of low-flying helicopters, which remained on the scene for the majority of the incident.

At about 3:00 a.m., Gabriel exited the residence, but failed to comply with the directions of the SEB personnel. A use of force occurred and when Gabriel continued to resist, a K9 was utilized to disable the suspect. Gabriel was taken into custody and transported to a local hospital for medical treatment.

Though first responders were able to take a break Thursday morning, the drama continued later in the day.

While executing a search warrant on the car that Gabriel drove to the crime scene, San Marino Police officers found large amounts of cash and the drugs in a rear storage area. The SMPD also learned that Gabriel was at the time free on bail from an arrest the previous week in North Hollywood for possession of Fentanyl, PCP and crystal meth. Incontro told The Tribune on Wednesday morning that investigators had not yet positively identified many of the substances.

Gabriel’s bail for the Sherwood Road incident was initially set at $125,000, but was later increased to $2.335 million. A judge has also issued three-year restraining order barring Gabriel from his former residence or having contact with his family. Gabriel and his ex-wife have three pre-teen children. Gabriel must also prove that the money he uses to post bail, if he is able to do so, has been obtained through legal channels.

Gabriel spent six years in the United States Army, where he earned the Expert Field Medical Badge, or EFMB, one of the most advanced Army special skills badges. The EFMB requires that candidates pay strict attention to detail to successfully complete the combat simulation. While serving in the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, Gabriel was selected for a rigorous 72-hour evaluation process involving tests of both knowledge and technical competency. Gabriel successfully passed the evaluation and was inducted into the “Order of the Spur,” which recognizes the Army’s elite.

When interviewed by The Tribune a year ago for a story that discussed his school board candidacy, Gabriel said he was “a senior director for one of the top international consultancies.” At the time, he said he had “more than 19 years of experience developing impactful solutions for a variety of organizations, in both public and private sectors.” Gabriel at the time declined to cite specific employers, a common practice among many candidates for public office. He also said he graduated cum laude with a Bachelors of Science degree in Finance before earning an MBA in Finance and Organizational Development from Pepperdine University.


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