Gunman Surrenders After 10-Hour Armed Standoff in Doylestown
The suspect, an off-duty New Jersey police officer, exchanged sporadic fire with responding officers as mid-afternoon standoff lasts until nearly midnight.
DOYLESTOWN (PA) - In the end, Richard Klementovich had nothing to say.
The off-duty police officer from Clifton, NJ, was escorted from the back of a Doylestown Township squad car shortly after midnight Sunday after a 10-hour armed standoff that forced neighbors to evacuate their homes in this affluent suburb of Philadelphia.
Klementovich remained silent as officers ushered him into the police department where he would be booked to face at least 13 charges of criminal attempted homicide and reckless endangerment.
About a half hour earlier, Klementovich had surrendered without incident to officers on the front lawn of his estranged wife's home at 25 Bittersweet Drive in the Doylestown Lea neighborhood of Doylestown Township.
As police began the booking process at their headquarters on Wells Road, some families began filtering back into the neighborhood just down the street, where police say Klementovich held them at bay for 10 hours with an undisclosed number of rifles, a reported 2,000 rounds of ammunition, and a gas mask.
Klementovich, 42, was scheduled to be arraigned by video at 4 a.m. Monday on 13 counts of criminal attempted homicide and reckless endangerment.
"There’s a chance that as the investigation unfolds additional charges may be added at a later time," Doylestown Township Police Chief Dean Logan said at the conclusion of the standoff.
The Star-Ledger newspaper of Newark, NJ reported that Klementovich is an 18-year veteran of the Clifton force who made $114,560 last year.
The Standoff Begins
The drama began on Father's Day afternoon at 1:44 p.m. That's when Doylestown Township police were called to the home in response to a "civil matter."
Multiple published reports indicated that Klementovich was involved in a dispute with his estranged wife, who police said owns the house. The Philadelphia Inquirer cited unnamed neighbors who said Klementovich had sent his wife a text message earlier Sunday stating that he was going to kill himself.
At 1:58 p.m., police said Klementovich fired his first shots.
Some of those shots took out two police cars and an armored personnel carrier. At 2 a.m. Monday, the bullet-riddled Doylestown Township police cars still could be seen outside the home.
One officer was injured during the standoff. Cpl William Doucette of the Doylestown Borough Police Department was hurt when a gunshot round hit a street curb and a piece of concrete dislodged by the round struck him in the face.
Chief David Mettin of the Pennridge Regional Police Department said Doucette's injuries were "not severe" and that he was treated and released from Doylestown Hospital. Mettin acted as spokesman for the police while Logan ran the operation from a command post at Campbell Insurance, near the neighborhood.
Police radio reports throughout the afternoon indicated that Klementovich had fired on police from multiple windows of the house. At about 5 p.m., Klementovich reportedly again opened fire on police, who returned fire with five shots into the second floor of the house.
A negotiating team worked throughout the day to talk Klementovich down, police said. Representatives from the Bucks County District Attorney's office and county detectives also were at the scene.
"We want to see this come to a safe conclusion," Mettin said during a press briefing.
Locking Down the Neighborhood
Sunday afternoon, as the standoff began, police officers from every jurisdiction in Bucks County were summoned to Doylestown Township.
At the north end of Wells Road, a Warwick Township officer blocked the road with his car, politely but firmly turning around the people trying to get to Central Park and residents trying to get back to their homes.
At the other end of Wells Road, a Warrington Township officer did the same thing.
The only vehicles allowed into the area were police vehicles - and they came by the dozens. Police cars, trucks and even the Bearcat, an armored personnel carrier that belongs to the Bucks County Major Incident Response Team - called SWAT by some.
Mettin said police had used an automated alert system to notify residents of the situation. People were told to either evacuate the neighborhood or go to a safe place in their home, preferably the basement.
As the streets emptied, police took up positions around the neighborhood and sought to establish contact with Klementovich by telephone. A police negotiator arrived at the scene around 4 p.m. Representatives from the Clifton, NJ, police department also responded to the scene and assisted the officers from Bucks County, Logan said.
The surrounding neighborhoods adjacent to Wells Road were closed, while visitors to nearby Central Park were allowed to remain until about 5 p.m., when police cleared the park.
By 6:30 p.m., police had stopped using emergency radio communications, believing that Klementovich was monitoring their operations.
Residents who had been displaced from their homes gathered at the Doylestown Township municipal building, next to the park, to await word on when they could return to their homes.
As the standoff wore on, Doylestown Township supervisor Barbara Lyons made coffee and sought to help residents find overnight accommodations. Highland Farm Bed and Breakfast - the home of Broadway lyricist Oscar Hammstein II - offered its rooms to those who had no place to stay.
Township manager Stephanie Mason picked up food - 20 burgers and fries donated by the Doylestown restaurant Penn Taproom - to bring back to the hungry group camped out at the township building.
As darkness fell, police expressed reservations that the standoff would end quickly.
"Resolution of this incident could take some time," Mettin told the media in a briefing.
About three hours later, though, Klementovich surrendered to police without incident.
Shorly afterward, police allowed the residents of all but seven houses to return to their homes. For reasons not immediately made clear, the residents of 247, 252, 253, and 254 Windsor Way and 23, 27, and 30 Radcliff Drive were told they could not immediately return.
Residents: "This is all new to us"
The standoff shook up the normally placid neighborhood.
Around 2 p.m., John Marabella had been working at replacing a door at his home on Radcliff Drive when he heard a series of gunshots, one after the other.
Gunshots actually aren’t that unusual in their neighborhood, he said, since they live not far from a rifle range operated by the Bucks County Fish & Game Association.
"At first I thought it was the gun club," John Marabella said. "But then something just told me that it wasn’t."
"You don’t hear rapid fire like that," his wife, Rosann, chimed in. "They don’t allow it."
But it wasn’t until a police officer came pounding on their door that the Marabellas realized how serious the situation was. Unbeknownst to them, a man in the house two to three doors down from them had started shooting at responding police officers.
"You could see he was very upset," Rosann said of the officer bearing an assault rifle standing on her doorstep. "He said, 'You have to get out of the house now.'"
"I asked him if I had time to grab my purse, and he said, 'Yes, but do it now, and get anyone else who is in the house, out of the house,'" Rosann said.
For the next few hours, the Marabellas joined the growing group of neighborhood residents who gathered first at Central Park and then at the township building, waiting, and sharing what information they could as the standoff dragged on.
"In this neighborhood, the worst crime we ever get is someone's political signs get taken," said Brian O'Connell, a 12-year resident of Radcliff Drive. "This is all new to us."
"You know it's not good when Warwick is closing the road," said Alice Anne Babinetz, gesturing towards the Warwick Police Department car blocking Wells Road.
Babinetz, who has lived in the neighborhood for 19 years, brought sunscreen and bottles of water to police officers and media members at the edge of the secured area.
At the end of the night, Logan, the township police chief, thanked the weary residents for their patience.
"It was a very long and frustrating experience for them," he said.
Earlier story and updates below.
Update 11:51 p.m.: Police have informed media at the scene that Klementovich has surrendered.
Update 11:37 p.m.: Residents of the neighborhood who are speaking on the phone with relatives or friends in the vicinity of the standoff house report that the home is completely dark.
Update 10:47 p.m.: Folks helping out: We're told that the Penn Taproom is sending food to people displaced by the standoff and that the Highland Farm Bed and Breakfast has offered its four rooms to people without a place to stay.
Update 10:40 p.m.: What reporter Tom Sofield described as an "eerie" calm has descended over the neighborhood as the standoff continues. The neighborhood is almost completely dark, with almost no interior lights from homes visible.
A PECO truck was seen entering the area some time ago, but it's not clear whether authorities have cut power to any homes, whether residents were asked to keep lights out, or whether the darkness is a function of many residents being away from home when the standoff began around 2:00 p.m.
Gunshot-like noises heard between 9:00 and 9:30 p.m. were not related to the standoff, according to police at the scene. One police officer speculated that activity at the nearby gun range or fireworks may have been responsible.
Update 9:43 p.m.: As local editor Sarah Larson posted below, in the comments section:
"Township Supervisor Barbara Lyons is here at the township building, trying to help residents sort out places to stay and medication and pets. No one is being allowed back into the neighborhood.
Families with teens or young adults in the locked down houses can give their addresses to police, and they will go in and bring the people out. After the people are out, the police said they will try to get the pets out.
Lyons is trying to arrange discounted hotel rates for the families with no place to stay - about 15 of them, it looks like."
Update 8:54 p.m.: "Resolution of this incident could take some time," said Chief David Mettin of the Pennridge Regional Police Department. Negotiators continue to speak with Klementovich, who remains in the residence.
Mettin said residents who had been displaced from their homes would not be allowed back until the situation had been resolved.
Mettin said that two Doylestown Township police cars were shot multiple times and remain "disabled at the scene."
Some residents who were waiting to return to their homes gathered at the township building, where they were told to expect a briefing from authorities.
Some expressed concern for the well being of housepets that had not received food or care since Sunday morning.
Update 5:01 p.m.: Police radio reports indicate that Klementovich just fired at officers again. Officers reportedly returned five shots towards the second floor of the house.
Update 4:54 p.m.: Authorities have identified the shooter as Richard Klementovich, 42, a Clifton, NJ police officer. He is in the residence at 25 Bittersweet Drive.
Update 4:27 p.m.: A Clifton, NJ police car arrived at the scene about 30 minutes ago. It's not clear at this time that the shooter, said to be an off duty New Jersey police officer, is affiliated with the Clifton, NJ police department.
Update 4:13 p.m.: A woman wearing a flak jacket who identified herself as a negotiator was allowed through the police barricade at Wells Road and Turk Road shortly after 4:00 p.m.
Update 4:09 p.m.: Additional shots were heard near the scene just before 4:00 p.m. Police on emergency radio channels have requested that airspace in the area up to 30,000 feet within a 30 mile radius of the scene be kept clear.
The most recent shots were reportedly fired from a garage window.
Update 4:00 p.m.: Media at the scene have been told that Doylestown police will be holding a briefing on the situation at the Doylestown municipal building shortly. We'll continue to bring you additional details as we get them.
Update 3:35 p.m.: In addition to Doylestown police, police units from Warrick, Warminster, Quakertown, Sellersville, and Plumstead have been sighted at the scene of the standoff.
A steady stream of traffic turning onto Wells Road from Lower State Road is being turned around.
Update 3:17 p.m.: There is an unconfirmed report that police at the scene have negotiated a "temporary truce" with the shooter, who is described as 5 feet, 10 inches tall and having a "muscular build."
Update 3:08 p.m.: A section of Wells Road between Lower State Road and Turk Road has been closed.
Two Central Bucks Ambulance vehicles are posted on Lower State Road near The Market at DelVal.
As his team prepared to enter the secured area on the southeast barricade on Wells Road, one unidentified SWAT team member could be heard advising his colleagues, "Remember guys, if you can see him, he can see us."
Update 2:45 p.m.: Nearby residents have told Patch via Twitter that police have advised them to move to their basements, presumably to avoid being in possible lines of fire.
The location is less than a quarter-mile from Doylestown's Central Park, which is likely being heavily used for recreational activities this afternoon.
Traffic is moving very slowly through the area.
Initial story below.
Police and SWAT team members from around Bucks County are converging on a location in the vicinity of Wells Road and Radcliff Drive after an unidentified person who is reportedly barricaded inside opened fire on responding police officers.
Breaking News Network, a service that monitors police radio broadcasts, indicated that the person inside was a police officer.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that police were called to the scene for a "civil matter" and had requested that SWAT also respond.
Patch editor Sarah Larson is en route to the scene. We'll update this story with additional information as it becomes available.