Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Standoff with police ends without injury in Homewood

Monday, June 29, 2010
By Vivian Nereim and Anthony Fenech, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

A nearly three-hour standoff between Pittsburgh police and a Homewood man with mental health problems ended peacefully Monday evening when the man surrendered after police fired tear gas canisters at him.

Robert Campbell Jr., 50, faces a charge of aggravated assault, said Pittsburgh Police Chief Nathan Harper. Mr. Campbell was not injured, nor were any police officers, Chief Harper said.

The standoff began after 4 p.m. Monday, when police were called to an apartment in the 7200 block of Frankstown Avenue. The building's landlord told police that Mr. Campbell, his tenant, had pointed a gun at him.

When police arrived, Mr. Campbell began to shout incoherently, Chief Harper said. SWAT teams were called to the scene, and police blocked off several streets. Initial reports indicated Mr. Campbell had more than 20 guns in his home, but that was never confirmed. No shots were fired during the standoff.

Chief Harper said police used a Long Range Acoustic Device repeatedly, asking Mr. Campbell to surrender. Instead, Mr. Campbell held up notes asking to see a warrant. Police threw him a telephone at least four times to try to talk to him, but he threw it back.

Several neighbors said Mr. Campbell was harmless, but others said he struggled with paranoid delusions.

Lilianne Miles, 43, said Mr. Campbell believed that the Federal Bureau of Investigation was tapping his telephone.

During the standoff, police saw Mr. Campbell point something at them, but they were not sure if it was a gun, Chief Harper said. Mr. Campbell did not have a gun when he surrendered.

Police were in the process Monday of obtaining a warrant so they could search his apartment.

Scores of people gathered to watch the standoff unfold, many frustrated that they could not reach their homes.

Two women who repeatedly tried to cross the police perimeter were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct, Chief Harper said.

Later, police fired tear gas canisters into the apartment. At about 6:45 p.m., Mr. Campbell surrendered. He was taken to the Allegheny County Jail, where he will undergo a mental health evaluation, Chief Harper said.

Police did not know Monday what prompted the confrontation between Mr. Campbell and his landlord.

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