Pa. standoff ends in arrest

July 16, 1997


Staff Writer, Chambersburg

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Officers from the Chambersburg Borough Police Special Emergency Team fired tear gas into a West Queen Street home Tuesday morning, ending a standoff that had begun more than nine hours earlier as a hostage situation, according to police.

Terry L. Brown, 50, came out of the house at 439 W. Queen St. at about 11:25 a.m. after police fired about a dozen canisters of tear gas into the home, shattering windows on the front and side of the one-story white stone house.

Brown was unarmed when he walked out the front door of the house. He disregarded verbal commands from police and resisted officers, according to the affidavit of probable cause filed in support of charges.


Witnesses said a team of police forced Brown onto the sidewalk, handcuffed him, then quickly put him into a police van.

He was taken to Chambersburg Police headquarters and arraigned at 3:45 p.m. before District Justice Gary Carter.

Police charged Brown with unlawful restraint, false imprisonment, simple assault, reckless endangerment, and resisting arrest, all misdemeanors.

Brown was being held Tuesday night at Franklin County Prison on $35,000 bail.

"Nobody got hurt. That's what we had hoped," said Sgt. Glenn Mann, officer-in-charge of the tactical police force.

Officers had arrived at the house about 7 a.m., after receiving a call that a woman was being held at the house, according to charging documents.

The first officers who arrived at the house determined a hostage situation existed, police said. Two 10-member special and tactical unit teams, outfitted in gray camouflage suits, black boots, caps and bulletproof vests, arrived soon afterward.

Pennsylvania State Police assisted.

Brown's estranged wife, Barbara Ellen Brown, left the house with a rifle at 8:15 a.m. when her husband fell asleep, Mann said.

She told police at the time that her husband had access to a shotgun in the house, charging documents said.

She said Terry Brown was depressed over their pending separation and that he had been at the home since 2 a.m., displaying the rifle and repeatedly threatening violence. She told police she was afraid to leave for fear of what he might do, according to charging documents.

After Barbara Brown left the house, police attempted for two hours to contact Terry Brown by telephone and a bullhorn, Mann said.

During that time, police evacuated nearby homes because they were in the line of fire, charging documents said.

Police fired tear gas into the home after Terry Brown did not respond to their attempts to make contact, Mann said.

"When nobody responds, you don't know what they're thinking. When they don't talk, it makes it difficult," Mann said.

Neighbors said the Browns moved into the home about four years ago. A "for sale" sign was posted in front of the home on Tuesday.

According to neighbors, Terry Brown is a truck driver and Barbara Brown is a licensed practical nurse.

They have three grown children and grandchildren, neighbors said.

Next-door neighbor William E. Brown, who is not related to Terry or Barbara Brown, said he heard the couple arguing when he woke up between 7 a.m. and 7:15 a.m. and then saw the police cars outside the home.

He described the couple as "decent neighbors."

Kenneth Deatrick, who lives across the street from the Browns, said he was only a little worried when police asked him and his wife to leave their home at about 8 a.m. Rather than wait in the sweltering heat, the couple went out to breakfast, he said.

Franklin Street residents Gary and Shawn Moore said they walked to a nearby parking lot, in view of the West Queen Street home, to see what was going on after another brother called to tell them he heard something on his monitor.

"We actually had a pretty good bird's eye view of it," said Gary Moore, 34.

But the two said they came close to taking off once police fired the gas canisters.

"I was scared. I heard gunshots and wanted to duck behind the cars," said Shawn Moore, 24.

Police said the shots heard by bystanders were not gunshots, but were the sounds of tear gas canisters being fired from shotguns.

During the standoff, police closed Lincoln Way West to Loudon Street and Monticello Court and West Queen Street between Connor Avenue and Federal Street for several hours.

Police called Allegheny Power to the scene in case electricity had to be shut off to the home, said Chambersburg Police Cpl. Robert Kean.

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