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Tamaqua stand-off ends without incident

Published December 23. 2009 05:00PM

After three tense hours in a stand-off on the streets of town, a Tamaqua man surrendered to police Tuesday after waving a knife and threatening to cut his own throat.

According to Tamaqua police, the incident began at 10:55 when police were called to a domestic dispute at 233 Pine Street.

The woman involved "said she had a domestic dispute with her boyfriend," said Chief Dave Mattson.

As police responded to the call, "a male came out of the side of the building and held a knife to his throat and said he was going to kill himself," said Mattson.

The man walked toward Water Street, an alley located near the area of the Little Schuylkill River. The man stood near a ten-foot wall that drops down to the river bank and rocks below. The individual repeatedly threatened to slice his neck. Mattson continued attempts at negotiation and called for assistance from the PA State Police and the PSP CERT negotiation team.

Schools were locked down and students at an adjacent day care were sequestered to a safe area. Traffic was diverted and a portion of the Middle Ward was closed as negotiations continued into the early afternoon.

"At 1:05 p.m. the subject dropped the knife and was arrested and transported by Tamaqua police to the Pottsville Hospital mental health unit for an involuntary commitment," said Mattson.

The incident ended without incident due to the skill of those who handled the matter, Mattson said.

"It was an outstanding job by the officers who responded and who worked together to bring about the best possible outcome for a situation like this."

Among the emergency units responding were police departments from Tamaqua, Coaldale, Lansford, McAdoo and the townships of West Penn, Rush, and Ryan, along with the PA State Police and officers of the PA Fish Commission, in addition to fire police from Tamaqua and Rush Township and emergency personnel of the Tamaqua Community Ambulance and Lehighton ALS.

The lockdown of schools was lifted and traffic was restored by early afternoon. Mattson said it was a matter of taking all possible precautions.

"By his behavior he created public disorder. We had to execute lockdowns for the safety of public."

Police do not plan to release the name of the individual, and since the matter involves a person with mental health issues, it remains uncertain as to whether charges will be filed.

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