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Timothy "Richard" Newcomb sleeps like a rock.

Just ask the Fresno SWAT team.

Somehow, Newcomb managed to give his 67-year-old mother the scare of her life and slumber through a five-hour police standoff that didn't end until SWAT officers set off two ear-popping percussion grenades Tuesday morning.

All because of what Newcomb, 32, described as a " comedy of errors" combined with a heavy sleeping habits.

"What can I say?" Newcomb said. "When I'm out, I'm out."

The trouble began when Newcomb arrived home at 2:45 a.m. Tuesday after a night out with friends. His mother, Nelda Newcomb, mistook him for a burglar and called 911.

She heard rummaging upstairs and things being knocked over. When she looked outside, she saw a window screen laying on the lawn. Her son's Corvette was nowhere in sight.

Sgt. Michael Manfredi said Richard Newcomb had been out drinking with friends. He came home without a key to the house, too drunk to drive. And, Manfredi said, rather than wake his mother, he decided to "Errol Flynn it up to the second-floor window."

Newcomb said it wasn't quite that exciting. He walked home sober and let himself in with a spare key.

Either way, Newcomb and police agree: He snoozed while neighbors were evacuated, a portion of Millbrook Avenue was blocked, and a dozen officers surrounded the house.

For three hours, believing they were dealing with an armed burglar, they tried to contact the "intruder." Nelda Newcomb had left the phone off the hook before fleeing outside in her nightgown, so officers shouted through the front door and used loudspeakers.

"We try and we try and we try," Manfredi said. "For three hours!"

Finally, at daybreak, police called in a team of about 30 SWAT officers and a group of negotiators, who try and contact Newcomb for two more hours.

Meanwhile, Nelda Newcomb sat outside, draped in a blanket. Her neighbors feared for her life.

"I woke up and I thought, What is going on here?" said neighbor Miriam Briggs.

She saw SWAT officers crouched behind cars, looking like something out of a cops-and-robbers flick, yelling, "Your house is surrounded. There is no way out."

At 8 a.m., police set off two percussion grenades. They could be heard from at least a block away.

Minutes later, after taking a shower and getting ready for a new job. Newcomb emerged. His mother had to see him before she believed he wasn't a burglar, Manfredi said.

Neighbors, most with a sense of humor, said they were relieved and a little drowsy.

"Better to be a little embarrassed than to have it turn out any other way," Briggs said.

The whole brouhaha cost police between $4,000 and $5,000. The city attorney will determine whether the Newcombs have to pay for any of it.

Richard Newcomb arrived at his new job, albeit a few hours late. And he's not laughing yet.

"Gimme about a month and a half and I'll probably be telling it to my buddies," Newcomb said. "This is much ado about nothing>"



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