Suspect in Standoff at San Mateo Medical Center Released from Custody

The 51-year-old man isolated himself in a hospital room with a knife before his arrest earlier this month.

A 51-year-old man accused of setting a small fire and barricading himself inside a hospital room at the San Mateo Medical Center earlier this month has been released from custody, the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office announced Tuesday.

The patient, Hillsborough resident Zavtcho Stoyanov, was arrested after the incident March 6 in which he allegedly set his hospital room on fire at the medical center, located at 222 W 39th Ave. in San Mateo.

Stoyanov appeared in court Monday, where a defense motion to continue his preliminary hearing was granted. The court also released Stoyanov on his own recognizance, to the prosecution's strong objection.

Stoyanov, who had been in custody on $500,000 bail, was recently diagnosed with terminal cancer.

The court agreed to release him from custody on the condition he stay with his friends, and that his friends transport him to and from medical appointments. 

The incident began at about 10:45 p.m. on March 5, when staff noticed smoke coming from his room. A nurse tried to open the door but discovered it had been blocked with a chair and hamper, according to the district attorney's office.

The nurse kicked the door open and saw the bed and floor on fire. He then saw Stoyanov walking toward him with a knife in his hand, prosecutors said.

Stoyanov thrusted the knife twice at the nurse's torso, missing both times only after the nurse jumped back, according to prosecutors.

The nurse emptied an extinguisher trying to put the fire out, then left the room.

San Mateo police were called and an officer entered the room and saw Stoyanov sitting on the bed.

The officer ordered Stoyanov to show his hands and saw he was still holding the knife.

As the officer approached, Stoyanov jabbed the knife at him, missing, according to prosecutors. The officer then used a taser to subdue Stoyanov.

Other officers and fire personnel were told smoke was billowing from a wing of the hospital, so thick an officer could not make out what was in front of him.

Staff frantically wheeled patients out of the area on beds in what turned out to be "a very chaotic scene in which fortunately no one was injured," prosecutors said.

Stoyanov is due back in court on April 12 for his preliminary hearing.

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