Many police alerts seem routine when the alarm is first called in, but even mundane incidents can quickly escalate into armed standoff between police and one or more suspects who may have automatic weapons. A recent incident in Lawrenceville started out as a landlord-tenant dispute and ended with a ten hour stand-off between police and an armed landlord who was a retired SWAT officer.

Police are called

At about 8:30 p.m. on Aug. 1, officers were dispatched to a home on Ivey Point Court in Gwinnett after receiving a report that a landlord and a tenant were having an intense argument. By the time that police arrived, one person had been injured, and the landlord had barricaded himself in his house. Police identified the injured person as a tenant in the building. The identification of the landlord was a bit more startling. He was identified as a retired SWAT officer who had worked in New York City’s Rikers Island for 30 years. Police also learned that he had been diagnosed as schizophrenic and bi-polar.

Stand-off ends

Given these factors, the Gwinnett County SWAT team was activated at 10:00 p.m. The team negotiated with the barricaded landlord through the night until about 7 a.m. Sunday morning, when he finally surrendered. The defendant was taken to the Gwinnett County Detention Center and charged with battery, obstruction of justice and making terroristic threats. Police made no comment about whether the defendant was responsible for injuring the tenant, although the battery charge is suggestive.

The long view

The defendant in this case is facing very serious charges, but he is of course presumed innocent unless and until is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. His best defense may be his shaky mental health. An experienced defense attorney would most likely move to have him found too ill to stand trial or not guilty by reason of insanity.