Woman holds police at bay for six hours in Pa.

July 26, 2005|by DON AINES

FAYETTEVILLE, Pa. - A 43-year-old woman was taken to Chambersburg Hospital for a mental evaluation after holding off police for six hours Monday, according to a family member who was in the house when the incident began.

A Pennsylvania State Police Special Emergency Response Team was called to the first block of East Main Street and at about 1 p.m. police fired what Cpl. Robert Marshall called a "flash-bang" device into the house. The woman did not come out at that point, but shortly after 3 p.m. she came out onto the back deck, sat down while talking on a telephone and was taken into custody by the SERT team, according to Marshall.

The incident was called in at 9:18 a.m. from the house, according to the Franklin County 911 Center.

"It came in as sort of a disturbance call," said Marshall of the Pennsylvania State Police barracks in Chambersburg. The caller indicated that a person in the house was threatening to harm herself with a gun, he said.


Marshall said the person, whom he did not identify, had access to several weapons inside. Four other family members were in the house at the time of the call, he said.

Those in the house included the woman's husband, a daughter and two grandchildren, ages 2 years and 3 weeks, according to one of the family members, who asked not to be identified.

Marshall said the family members were unhurt and out of the house within half an hour of police arriving.

"She's supposed to take medication and she doesn't," said the family member, who said the woman has been treated for mental health problems. The family member said the woman did not directly threaten anyone in the house.

Police blocked off East Main Street between Coldspring Road and Chickentown Road.

"I came out at 10 and there were cops everywhere," said neighbor Eric Diffenderfer. "I heard it go off. It was loud," he said of the device police fired into the house.

About 15 to 20 members of the SERT team that serves the eastern part of Pennsylvania, however, were at the scene and emergency personnel from the Fayetteville, Pa., and Pleasant Hall, Pa., fire companies were on hand in case there were injuries and to direct traffic around the roadblock, Marshall said.

During the impasse, a police negotiator tried to talk the woman out of the house by telephone, Marshall said. At about 2 p.m. another daughter of the woman tried to talk her out using a loudspeaker, according to the family member.

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