He threatened to pepper spray, kill Modesto cop, FBI tipster said. He’s behind bars now

David Jason Travis.
David Jason Travis. Modesto Police Department

Modesto police on Friday night arrested a man who’d allegedly threatened to kill one of their own.

The Police Department was informed by the FBI that a caller to a tip line said Modesto resident David Jason Travis, 35, had made threats to law enforcement. Among the threats was that Travis planned to subdue a Modesto police officer with pepper spray, then kill him or her, police Sgt. Kalani Souza said Monday. No specific officer was identified as the target, Souza said.

The tip was determined to be valid, the sergeant said, so investigators and undercover officers staked out Travis’ residence in the SunCrest Villas apartment complex on the 1100 block of Norwegian Avenue. A resident of the area said the stakeout lasted more than 10 hours.

When Travis left his home, he ran as officers approached. After a short foot pursuit, he was taken into custody, Souza said.

Police served a search warrant of his home and found pepper spray and materials consistent with the making of pipe bombs, the sergeant said.

Travis was booked into jail, where he remained in custody Monday, with bail set at $500,000. He faces charges of making criminal threats, possessing destructive device materials, resisting arrest and being a felon in possession of pepper spray.

Souza said Modesto police have had prior contact with Travis but not arrested him. The sergeant said Travis has an extensive criminal history, mostly in Ceres. Stanislaus County Superior Court archives show convictions including assault with intent to do great bodily harm, making criminal threats and vandalism.

In December 2004, Travis was among three Modesto men who suffered burns when a methamphetamine lab exploded in a north Modesto home.

Investigators found a meth lab in a back room of the fire-destroyed home in the 3800 block of Almeria Drive between McHenry Avenue and Tully Road.

Firefighters found one man inside the house with burns to his face and hands. A second man was dropped off at Memorial Medical Center more than two hours after the explosion.

Seven hours after the blast, Travis called for an ambulance from a relative’s home in Ceres. He was taken to Memorial Medical Center and later transferred to the UC Davis burn center in Sacramento. Then-Sgt. Tim Helton said at the time, “I’m told that Travis’ clothing was burned and his tennis shoes were melted on his feet. I don’t know how he made it so long after he was burned.”