A 12-hour standoff that began Sunday evening on a residential street in Hellertown borough–closing schools and alarming neighbors–ended around 9:30 a.m. Monday with a man in custody and neighbors relieved to be able to leave their homes again.
A nearby neighbor of the 510 Spruce Street home where the drama unfolded said he was initially alerted to the situation by police and told to shelter in place by an officer who knocked on his door around 9:30 p.m. Sunday.
At 3:30 a.m., another law enforcement officer knocked on his door and repeated the order, he said, adding that he was asleep at that time.
Ultimately, state police officers in tactical gear used specialized robotic vehicles and then tear gas to bring the man–who has not yet been publicly identified by authorities–out of the modest Cape Cod home in which he’d reportedly barricaded himself.
The neighbor said his daughter heard them announce outside that he was in custody.
Earlier, the suspect’s teenage daughter was brought to the scene to communicate with him via a police bullhorn early Monday morning, when Saucon Valley schools closed due to the proximity of the standoff to the district’s campus.
The campus is located several blocks away, and district officials initially told parents schools would open as normal Monday.
They subsequently reversed that decision, but by then it was too late to alert parents to the change before many had sent their kids off to school, either on foot or on buses.
The district used automated telephone calls and texts as well as emails to get the word out, but many parents said on social media that they found out schools were closed from local news media or their own children, before hearing about it from the district.
Some parents reported that their children’s school buses were turned away after arriving at the school district campus, while others said their high school-age kids were put in a lockdown at the school once they got there.
Other parents said their children who walk to school were told by police and/or fire officials to return home before they ever reached the campus.
In an email that went out to parents after the standoff had ended, assistant school district superintendent Kristine Rosenberger said police advised district officials of the situation “early this morning” but “at that time there was no call to close our schools, and a communication was sent out.”
“While our secondary school bus run was actively taking place, we received a second call from the police advising the district to close the schools,” she wrote. “Given this change and our need to make an immediate decision, our transportation department began the process of turning around the secondary school buses en route and go back (sic) for middle and high school students who had already been dropped off.”
The elementary school bus run, which had not yet begun, was canceled.
“For students who were already at the schools, the administration and staff were attentive to their safety and communicated with parents as soon as possible,” Rosenberger said in the email. “A second call to notify families was immediately created at this time and successfully transmitted to students and staff but not parents. Once this was discovered, another call was re-created for the parents and sent.”
“We apologize that the timing of the call to close the schools was less than optimal,” Rosenberger added. “We appreciate your support and understanding in keeping our schools safe and thank the internal and external parties involved in making informed decisions for the district.”
Numerous roads in the area of the 500 block of Spruce Street were closed during the standoff, however by 10 a.m., barricades were already starting to be removed by police.
It is not known yet what, if any, charges the man who was brought out of the home in handcuffs will face as a result of the incident, or if any other people were involved in it.
It is also still unknown what may have precipitated the standoff Sunday evening.