Armed Officer Killed After 10-Hour Standoff With Police
The Star-Leger via YellowBrix
March 28, 2011
PISCATAWAY — As a commander of the Piscataway police SWAT team, Sgt. David Powell knew when to move in to save hostages and designed drills to teach other officers how to as well.
On Sunday, Powell, 46, was on the opposite side, barricading himself inside his house and declaring he had taken hostages.
Around 5 p.m., police cordoned off several blocks around 130 Parkside Ave., and the SWAT team Powell had once trained surrounded his house. While neighbors waited anxiously behind locked doors, members of the Middlesex County Special Operations and Rescue Team tried to negotiate with Powell, but he refused to surrender.
At 6:48 p.m. Powell, a 22-year veteran of the police force, stepped onto the front porch and sprayed shots from a 9mm submachine gun. Police, “concerned for the safety of the public and the safety of the possible hostages,” fired back, said Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce Kaplan in a statement.
At 1:41 a.m. Monday Powell was declared dead inside the home, ending the seven-hour stand-off. Powell, a father of two, died of a gunshot wound, said Kaplan, who indicated ballistic tests will be done to determine which shot killed the former Piscataway policeman.
Police Chief Richard Ivone called Powell a decorated officer who was respected in the department and was most recently assigned as a road sergeant in the patrol division. However, Ivone said, “there was a domestic situation that led to tragedy.”
The incident began about 3:30 p.m. Sunday when police called and sent Powell text messages regarding a report that he had violated a restraining order, Kaplan said, although police did not disclose who reported the violation.
After nearly an hour, Powell, who was off-duty, refused requests to come to headquarters and said he was holding hostages, according to the prosecutor.
As officers continued to try and talk with Powell, investigators determined he was alone and there were no hostages, said Kaplan. A State Police Bomb squad robotic device was sent up to the front porch, helping officers decide if was safe to enter the home.
Powell, who had been a member of the Middlesex County SWAT team and a commander of the Piscataway SWAT team, lived in the house on Parkside Avenue for a nearly 20-year period, a time marked by disputes according to neighbors.
Wendy Richards, who lives two doors away from Powell, said she knew he had problems for several years, and he should have been given help.
“I’m extremely angry. This incident doesn’t surprise me. I really thought this would have blown up sooner. Imagine having to live two doors down from this,” said Richards, whose husband is a retired Piscataway police officer.
Representatives from the Cop2Cop counseling service for law enforcement were at the police department Monday, Ivone said. He said all township officers, including Powell were aware of the program, but it’s uncertain if Powell had called the counselors.
Powell’s son from his first marriage grew up in the house until his parents divorced more than 10 years ago, neighbors said. Powell had joint custody of the son, who graduated from high school last year, and a nine-year-old daughter with his second wife, according to neighbors.
Powell’s mother, when asked about her son, who grew up in Dunellen, said he had just gone through a difficult divorce. Her voice breaking with emotion, Diane Powell said he was “a loving father and a good son.” She ended a telephone call, saying she couldn’t talk any longer.
Kaplan said the state Attorney General’s Office was notified of the shooting, as required by state guidelines and that police were investigating the weapon used by Powell, and how he had obtained it.