Police storm house, end standoff

May 09, 1999

Police standoffBy KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI and BRUCE HAMILTON / Staff Writers

photo: JOE CROCETTA / staff photographer

A gunman held Hagerstown City Police at a standoff for six hours Sunday before officers stormed a home at 17 E. Lee St. home and arrested him.

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Police responded to the residence around 10:21 a.m. for a report of a domestic dispute but were not allowed to enter. The man refused to allow his wife to leave the residence or talk with police, Capt. Robert Hart said.

Woodrow Wilson Morris Sr., 39, of 17 E. Lee St., was charged with first-degree assault, second-degree assault, false imprisonment and reckless endangerment. He is being held pending an appearance before a bond commissioner, expected to come early today.


Over the course of six hours, city police blocked off streets and intersections on the perimeter of the two-story brick home. Special operations sharpshooters were stationed with guns aimed at the residence.

Police evacuated neighboring houses and urged residents in the area to stay inside.

"They made us leave," said Nancy Wiles of East Lee Street. She and Brenda Myers said they heard banging on a neighbor's door and police asked them to evacuate soon after.

Along Potomac Street and nearby roads, curious heads poked out of front doors and craned toward the Lee Street intersection. Police repeatedly told pedestrians to retreat, warning some they were approaching the line of fire.

No shots were fired, Hart said.

Police decided after five hours talks had reached an impasse and storming into the home was the only way to get the man out, Hart said.

Five officers entered the home and apprehended the man without a struggle, police said. He was then taken to police headquarters.

City police negotiators talked with the man throughout the day. Hart said he was more of a threat to himself than to his wife.

"He had a fear of police," Hart said they learned through negotiations.

Police were able to convince him to release Tina Morris at 1:40 p.m.

In tears, she was escorted by police into the Hagerstown City Police Mobile Command Center truck parked at the 200 block of North Potomac Street. Family members waiting nearby lifted police crime scene tape and rushed to her side but were initially held back by officers.

The victim had numerous bruises on her upper arms from being held against her will, according to police.

Despite the visible injuries, Tina Morris told police she was not harmed by her husband of 17 years, Hart said.

Police said they were unsure what started the domestic dispute. It may have been a prolonged argument that started on Saturday and continued into Mother's Day, Hart said.

City police did not consider the incident a hostage situation because the man never made any requests in exchange for his or his wife's release, Sgt. William C. Wright said during the standoff, adding that it was considered a "barricade situation."

Wright monitored the situation from the corner of East Lee and South Potomac streets. Four uniformed officers were at that corner, including a Special Response Team sharpshooter, who lay on his stomach with his gun poised for over four hours.

About 22 officers responded to the incident, including patrol units, police negotiators, the Special Response Team, Chief Dale J. Jones and other administrators.

"It was a great effort by everyone on the scene," Hart said. "It lasted six hours and it showed their perseverance."

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