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DJJ Watch: Visitor Brings Hidden Cache of Weapons to Stockton Youth Detention Facility

Celeste Fremon
Written by Celeste Fremon

On Saturday, August 10, a 24-year-old man was arrested after attempting to visit one of California’s state-run juvenile facilities with an alarming cache of weapons and ammunition.

He was intercepted by corrections staff members at the entry gate of the N.A. Chaderjian Youth Correctional Facility — locally known as “Chad” — located in Stockton.

Chad is one of four facilities run by California’s Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ).

The staff members discovered the weapons during search of the man’s vehicle. Officers quickly detained the man while they notified the San Joaquin Sheriff’s Department, who later arrived and took the man into custody.

The suspect, whose name is Ishtar Christian Romo, was arrested on various weapons charges.

WitnessLA obtained a photo of the items that were discovered in Romo’s vehicle (see above), which reportedly includes AR-style pistol, a bolt-action rifle, a shotgun and what appears to be at least six 30-round magazines, plus other ammunition, and some kind of tactical vest.

The Department of Juvenile Justice did not make the matter public. But, last Tuesday, August 13, DJJ Director Chuck Supple sent an email to staff members, briefly explaining the discovery, and lauding the main officer, and those who aided him, for “discovering a potentially dangerous situation” and then acting in a way to “neutralize the threat without further incident.”

(WLA also has Supple’s email.)

Prior to the director’s outreach to Chad’s staff, the news of the weapons discovery had already reached most of the facility’s employees via personal conversations.

In his email to Chad’s staff, Director Supple wrote that it didn’t appear that Romo intended to use the weapons against youth facility.  Yet “an abundance of caution keeps us all safe,” he wrote.

The incident “really made people nervous,” said one WLA source — coming as it did after the mass shootings that have stunned the nation this summer.

During the week after the Saturday discovery, staff reportedly began doing particularly aggressive “spot checks” of visitors, because they were “concerned,” said a source, especially after the photo of the weapons and ammunition made the rounds.

The heartbreaking murder of CHP Officer Andre Moye

Two days after the Chad weapons discovery, on Monday, August 12, Riverside CHP Officer Andre Moye was shot and killed after what Riverside Police Chief Sergio Diaz called a “long and horrific shootout,” with a suspect that Officer Moye pulled over in a routine traffic stop.

The man who shot and killed Officer Moye, and injured two other officers, was reportedly using an AR-15 style weapon.

Law enforcement leaders ask for stronger gun laws.

With these kinds of incidents and much more in mind, police chiefs of several of the nation’s largest cities, including Chief Michel Moore of the Los Angeles Police Department, sent a letter on Monday, August 12, to President Trump and to congressional leaders of both parties, urging them to reinstate a national assault weapons ban (which expired in 2004), and pass a ban on high-capacity magazines, “and other “common sense” legislation.

“Our voices should mean something to elected leaders,” Chief Moore told the LA Times about the 2-page letter.

“These weapons are designed to do nothing but kill.”

Last Thursday, August 15, three days after the police chiefs sent their letter, a gun-rights group sued California in the hope of stopping the state from enforcing its assault-weapons ban, “contending it violates the Second Amendment right to bear arms,” the Associated Press reports.

As for the weapons cache discovery at DJJ’s Chad facility, after we spoke to Mike Sicilia, the deputy press secretary for the Division Juvenile Justice at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, and told him we had a photo of the guns, et al, plus the director’s email, thus didn’t need a confirmation, he kindly sent us this statement.

“On Saturday morning, August 10, a person attempted to enter Northern California Youth Correctional Center as a visitor. Upon a routine search of the man’s vehicle by correctional staff, some firearms and ammunition were found. The San Joaquin Sheriff’s Department took the man into custody.”

The investigation into the circumstances surrounding the attempted transport of the weapons on to DJJ grounds is ongoing.

Editor’s Update: This story originally mentioned reports of a shooting at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Lancaster station yesterday — a story that may, in fact, be inaccurate, although the latest communication from the sheriff’s department says otherwise. On Wednesday, August 21, news broke of a sniper reportedly shooting into the parking lot of the station, injuring a 21-year-old LASD deputy named Angel Reinosa. It is our understanding, however, that the deputy may or may not have actually been shot. And there are other elements of the sniper story that have grown decidedly fuzzy.  More as we know it.


  • Celeste’s “Update” contains a very interesting tidbit. Hopefully, she’ll keep her ear to the ground and keep us readers informed.

    If, as we also hear, this incident isn’t as was first reported and the LASD sits on the true facts, then we have a real problem with credibility of our new Sheriff who promised a new era of transparency.

  • Possible Active Shooter!!! To all County Probation Officers and State Peace Officers, let’s all give thanks to the CJCJ. ACLU, Little Hoover Commissions, and Books not Bars for that, as well as removing chemical agents. These poor little innocent kids, abused by Probation & DJJ staff is not capable of committing such a crime. “IT’S TIME TO STAND UP AND FIGHT FOR OUR JOBS.”

  • How long before Witness la runs a story on DJJ’s dehumanizing and abusive policy of searching visitors cars?

  • Jimmy Olsen!

    LASD is the most corrupt agency period. Who would want to work or apply there as a DEPUTY SHERIFF. LASD Deputies are gang like cops, patrol station gang cliques. The truth is, to get hired in LASD as an Deputy Sheriff, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know to get hired.” Come apply to be a real Deputy.

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