SWAT team targets wrong person's home in case of mistaken identity
GAITHERSBURG, Md. - The Carroll County Sheriff's Office is admitting it was a mistake that led to a SWAT raid at a Montgomery County man's home where he and his family were detained by police.
Israel Orellana has the same name as a man investigators were searching for in a gun theft case. Somehow, Carroll County got a warrant to search the wrong man's home.
Orellana says he was in his bedroom Tuesday when he heard the noises. He says his mom had friends from church at their home at the time.
"I thought it was my mom's friends because sometimes they pray and they start dancing," he said. "So I get up from my bed and I start walking over to my door. And as I'm opening my door, I make eye contact with the SWAT officer and he pushes up against the door with his shield and he slams me against the wall. He starts screaming at me, 'Stop resisting! Stop resisting!'"
Orellana showed FOX 5 a bruise on his face and scrapes on his arm. He said his hands were tied behind his back and he was taken upstairs to find that his family and his mother's friends were also detained. He says officers barged in on his 14-year-old sister in the bathroom.
"It was really horrific," he said. "You feel really helpless during the whole situation. Like you know you're innocent, you're telling them you're innocent, but they just see you as a criminal."
The Carroll County Sheriff's Office got the search warrant for Orellana's home and requested that Montgomery County police execute it. According to the search warrant, a man named Israel Orellana was linked to a home burglary where 20 guns and money were stolen. The suspect in the case was identified in surveillance video and investigators believed that Orellana's driver's license photo matched that video.
Both Israel Orellanas live in Gaithersburg.
The second in command at the sheriff's office, Colonel Larry Suther, told FOX 5 that an internal investigation is now underway.
"We're going to take a hard look at how we got to that point," Suther said.
Orellana says he wants accountability, especially because his mother, who is battling cancer, had a panic attack as she was being detained and had to be hospitalized.
"She's undergoing chemo, so her medicine puts her at high-risk of a heart attack," he said. "And when she had the panic attack, it was very serious to all of us."
He says the outcome of the situation could have been much worse than his bruises and the gash in his door.
"This isn't really about money to me. There needs to be action taken. People need to be held responsible, and they need to do a better job," he said. "Like, it's just that plain and simple. They can't be breaking into people's houses just because I have the same name and I look like someone."
In a statement provided by the Carroll County Sheriff's Office:
"The Carroll County Sheriff's Office, following investigative leads in a case where numerous guns had been stolen from a residence in Carroll County, obtained search warrants for a residence in Montgomery County. Unfortunately, the suspect shared the same name and general location as an unrelated person, and investigators initially went to the unrelated persons address.
"We will be conducting an internal investigation into how we got to the original Mr. Orellano's address."