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SWAT Standoff: Mahwah Dispatcher Convinces Man Who Fired Gun In Home To Surrender

Bergen County Regional SWAT team members.
Bergen County Regional SWAT team members. Photo Credit: CLIFFVIEW PILOT

A Mahwah man who fired a gun in his home and then called police to tell them about it was taken for a psychiatric evaluation after a brief standoff Wednesday.

The 57-year-old Apple Ridge Community resident emerged peacefully, carrying the weapon and his cellphone, with which he’d been talking to a police dispatcher who coaxed him out.

The Westervelt Lane resident called shortly before 4:30 p.m., saying “shots have been fired in my home,” said Capt. Stephen Jaffe, the department’s officer in charge.

The man explained that he “thought he heard someone [who] have tried to enter his home in the basement area” and fired shots into the door, Jaffe said.

Responding officers -- Lt. Scott Cherven, Sgt. Michael Blondin, Detective Sgt. Kevin Hebert, Officers John Lange, Klaus Stewen, Thomas Solimano and David Sinisi and Detectives Eric Larsen and Michael Grassi -- established a perimeter around the residence and surrounding area, the captain said.

A Bergen County Regional SWAT team also responded.

Dispatcher Nicole Mullen kept the man on the line, asking him to put the gun down and come out.

He refused and “insisted the officers enter the home,” Jaffe said.

They held their ground.

Eventually, Mullen convinced him to surrender.

The man “exited the residence holding a handgun and cell phone while in the front doorway of the residence in a non-menacing manner,” the captain said.

He then complied with police commands to put the weapon down before being taken into protective custody, Jaffe said.

The tactical unit went in and determined that no one else had been inside. They also recovered a second gun in a bedroom, along with other evidence, the captain said.

Police also checked neighbors’ homes and determined that they all were safe and not injured.

The as-yet unidentified man taken to New Bridge Medical Center in Paramus for evaluation and “determination of potential additional medical factors involved with his actions,” Jaffe said.

Charges were expected once the evaluation and an investigation are completed, he said.

Jaffe thanked the SWAT team and the Bergen County Sheriff’s Bureau of Criminal Identification, which collected evidence. He also thanked Ramsey police for their assistance.

“It is important to commend the professionalism, teamwork and outstanding actions of Mahwah Dispatchers Nicole Mullen, Lauren Tomitsch and Andrew Hartophilis as well as the responding Mahwah officers to bring the situation to a successful and safe conclusion.”

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