When Brad Johns came home with his wife just after 7 p.m. Saturday from a wedding, he found himself staring down the barrel of his own antique hunting rifle.
The gun was brandished, according to officials, by transient Ryan Hager, 33, who had reportedly broken into Johns' home through the back door using a pair of garden shears he found in the backyard of the home, located about 10 miles north of Hanford in a private neighborhood just north of 8th Street and Dover Avenue.
Johns escaped and called the Kings County Sheriff's Office, who he praised this week for their quick response. Central Valley Regional SWAT and the Kings County Crisis Resolution Team also arrived to provide support.
What followed was an hours-long standoff — from 7:30 p.m. until approximately 4 a.m. Sunday morning — between the Kings County SWAT team, other law enforcement officials and Hager, who reportedly screamed at SWAT team members, fired off rounds within the house and played loud music.
Ultimately, Hager leaned out of a second story window and opened fire on SWAT team members, who returned fire, according to officials.
Hager then reportedly became quiet, and after SWAT team members entered the home a few hours later, his body was discovered in a second-floor bathroom, according to Sheriff's Office Public Information Officer Nate Ferrier. He died from gunshot wounds, according to Ferrier, who said an investigation is ongoing into whether he was killed by return gunfire, or whether the wounds were self-inflicted.
A walk through the house Thursday showed walls full of bullet holes, and the lingering smell of tear gas that law enforcement used to try to force Hager out of the residence.
As a Los Angeles-based biohazard firm visited earlier this week, throwing away many items marked as contaminated, Johns had to move into a garage near his house that had previously been earmarked for an entertainment room.
Most of the windows and doors in Johns' house are covered with metal bars, but one doorway into the first floor of the house was destroyed by a Kings County SWAT truck. Johns joked that his house is now the only one with a drive-thru in Kings County.
According to the sheriff’s office, Hager had a record of convictions, including possession of a controlled substance, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, battery on a peace officer, destruction of evidence and being under the influence of a controlled substance.
At the time of Saturday's standoff, Hager was on parole for criminal threats after having been sentenced to three years in prison in 2021, according to the sheriff’s office.
The sheriff’s office said in a release this week that numerous attempts were made to get Hager to peacefully surrender.
“Overall, our response was very by-the-book,” Ferrier said. “From our SWAT Team, to our Crisis Resolution team, to our air unit, a command post was brought out. Everyone on patrol did their job really well in this situation."
Johns made it clear he doesn’t fault the sheriff's office.
“Your sheriff's department did everything they could to protect property,” Johns said. “They did everything they could to protect life. I give them high marks for that.”
Johns said, however, he no longer believes that the community is safe and encouraged residents to find ways to protect themselves.
Ferrier said residents living in a rural area looking for more safety should install cameras, especially motion alert cameras, or home alarms.
“If I lived in a rural location, I would for sure have a house alarm,” Ferrier said.
Johns is exploring California’s victim compensation funds to cover the damage to his property, but said he is glad Hager did not break into one of his neighbor’s houses, who all have children living at home.
“I'm grateful for that,” Johns said. “I know I got the damages. I know I'm inconvenienced, but Ellen [Johns’ wife] and I are simple people. We don't need much.”