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Deputies Arrest Fresno Urban Peace Graduate After Finding Him With 25 Guns
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By David Taub, Senior Reporter
Published 4 weeks ago on
March 26, 2024

Urban Peace Academy graduate Thomas Roland Sr. of Fresno faces burglary and gun possession charges and is in county jail. (GV Wire Composite/Paul Marshall)

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A graduate of an anti-violence program is back in jail, accused of burglary and gun possession.

Last week, Thomas Roland Sr. completed the Urban Peace Academy, with a certificate signed by the program’s executive director, and Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer.

“It’s the community violence intervention certification training,” said Jessica Canales, technical assistance director at Urban Peace Institute, which organizes the academy.

Nine days before, Fresno County Sheriff’s officials said Roland, 49, was arrested for six felonies — burglary, possession of a gun by a felon, possession of ammunition by a felon, concealing stolen property, grand theft of a firearm, and evading police.

Roland bailed out the same day on March 13 — even with a felony in possession charge — for $207,500.

Roland appeared in court on Tuesday and was re-arrested with six new firearms and burglary charges. As of Tuesday afternoon, he remained in Fresno County jail, with a new bail of $282,500.

“I do understand that once in a while there are bad apples. But the vetting process, the background process for this Urban Peace Institute probably needs to be updated and be a little bit more rigorous so you can weed out people like Mr. Roland,” Fresno County Sheriff John Zanoni said. “Because in my opinion, he doesn’t have any business being in the Urban Peace Institute class. He should be locked up in a state prison.”

Urban Peace Institute confirmed that Roland attended the academy, but had no comment about his arrest or how the program vets applicants.

Thomas Roland graduates from the Urban Peace Academy last week. (Special to GV Wire)

City of Fresno Funds Peace Institute

The 40-hour academy focuses on anti-violence techniques.

“The folks that attended are community violence intervention workers or street outreach workers who have been doing the work for about two years,” Canales said.

Canales said that 12 people participated in the training. It is the only academy scheduled for the year.

The city awarded Urban Peace Institute a $300,000, 18-month contract on Dec. 14 for “for street outreach training modules for community-based violence intervention workers and law enforcement personnel.”

The vote was 7-0.

Funding comes from grants through the Board of State and Community Corrections, and the California Violence Intervention Program

Burglary, Pursuit, and 25 Firearms

Zanoni said deputies suspected Roland for a March 12 burglary in northwest Fresno near Sierra and Van Ness avenues. The sheriff’s say Roland stole a large gun safe. Deputies spotted a vehicle south of town that they believed was involved in the burglary. Roland, the driver, allegedly led the deputies in a pursuit.

“They were throwing guns out the window of the car,” Zanoni said. “Shortly after the pursuit, (deputies were) able to go back and locate five guns that were stolen firearms,” Zanoni said.

Further investigation revealed a safe at Roland’s residence, allegedly containing stolen or unregistered firearms, and other stolen property. They found a total of 25 (19 of those found in the allegedly stolen safe) firearms either stolen or unregistered in Roland’s possession, either in the car or at his residence.

“It starts to make you wonder where these firearms are going that are being stolen in these burglaries. Why would individuals that have felony records and are convicted felons have this many firearms?” Zanoni said. “One can only believe that these firearms were going to be distributed to or furnished to gang members to commit crimes.”

Zanoni said Roland did not admit to being a gang member, but deputies believe he is a gang associate.

“In essence. Mr. Roland is furnishing the gang with these firearms, which we know are used to commit violent acts here in our city and in our community,” Zanoni said.

[Note: the sheriff’s office initially told GV Wire that Roland was found with 27 guns. They later updated to say it was 19, then updated the number again to 25.]

A Criminal Past

Roland was previously arrested for operating a chop shop in 2016. He pleaded no contest to one count, with four other counts dismissed. He served three years of formal probation.

It was one incident of several run-ins with the law in Roland’s lifetime.

As a 17-year-old juvenile in 1992, he served time in state prison for a 1992 robbery at a Fresno KMart. Court documents said he was returned to prison three times for violating parole and discharged in 1999.

He was convicted several times in the 2000s for DUI, receiving stolen property, and battery. Roland also served time out of Kings County, initially sentenced to six years in state prison in 2009 for felony evading a peace officer.

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David Taub,
Senior Reporter
Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email

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