A nine-hour police standoff in Pennsylvania ended on Boxing Day after a SWAT team negotiator serenaded an armed suspect with a Christmas carol.
Police were called to a home around 9 p.m. on Christmas Day for reports of an armed man who had barricaded himself inside, WPVI reported. Police were called by a concerned family member who said the suspect was in the process of separating from his wife and was acting erratically.
According to NBC News, the suspect’s estranged wife said his sister-in-law went to check on him, and he was found wielding a rifle. The suspect allegedly fired four shots at the woman, who managed to flee the scene uninjured.
That’s when the Chester County Regional Emergency Response Team was called in to assist responding officers. According to district attorney Tom Hogan, the suspect fired several shots at police during the lengthy standoff.
“Over a long and cold night, they kept negotiating with the man, who eventually started shooting at the police and around the neighbourhood,” Hogan said in a statement. A SWAT negotiator finally talked him into surrendering at 6 a.m. (on Dec. 26) by singing a Christmas carol for him. You can’t make this stuff up.”
According to WPVI, the negotiator sang White Christmas to the suspect over the telephone, ultimately leading to his surrender.
“Incidents like this are why our SWAT team trains constantly,” police Chief Matt Williams told the news station. “Despite the extreme danger to the police officers, the team responded calmly and professionally, resulting in the eventual surrender of the defendant.”
The district attorney thanked the responding SWAT team for its efforts on Christmas night.
“I brought Christmas cookies for some cold and tired SWAT team members,” Hogan said. “This being SWAT, they ate the cookies, made fun of each other and went home to their families, quietly satisfied with a job well done. All of Chester County says thank you.”
The suspect, identified as Nathaniel Lewis, faces a slew of charges, including multiple counts of attempted homicide and aggravated assault.