Chesterton Tribune



Nine hour standoff in Jackson Township ends safely with man in custody

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A Jackson Township man with a previous history of mental issues was taken safely into custody on Wednesday after he barricaded himself into his home on C.R. 1050N for some nine hours, the Porter County Sheriff’s Police said.

The man was identified as Eric Martin, 45, of 363E 1050N.

He was being detained this morning at the Porter County Jail on a prosecutor’s probable-cause hold, PCSP Sgt. Larry LaFlower told the Chesterton Tribune. Formal charges were expected late today or early tomorrow.

The PCSP became involved in the incident at 11:49 a.m., after a staffer at the Chesterton Medical Center, at 650 Dickinson Road, reported that a patient there had been injured by his son, Eric Martin, LaFlower said.

Martin’s father advised that his son had held a knife to this throat, inflicting several lacerations to his neck, and beat him about the face. LaFlower said that the elderly man’s eyes were swollen and his face bruised.

Martin’s father also advised that he’d managed to flee their home and that his wife, already outside the residence, had then driven him to the Chesterton Medical Center.

The PCSP subsequently learned that, only four minutes before the Chesterton Medical Center had called 911, Porter Superior Court Judge Bill Alexa had formally ordered commitment paperwork on Martin, for a minimum 72-hour stay at Porter-Starke Services, LaFlower said.

At 12:06 p.m., after obtaining a house key from Martin’s mother, officers went to speak to Martin at the residence. As one of the officers used the key to open the door, it was slammed shut in his face from inside and Martin informed officers that he was in possession of a firearm, LaFlower said. Officers then became aware of Martin’s efforts to barricade himself: there was the sound of furniture being moved and of doors being secured by ropes.

Officers retreated to establish a perimeter and the SWAT Team was mustered. A number of standard protocols were also implemented, LaFlower said: electric and natural-gas service to the Martin home was disconnected--leaving a number of neighboring residences without power as well--and C.R. 1050N between C.R. 350E and C.R. 400E was closed to traffic. No one was evacuated but neighbors who’d been out and about when the incident began--perhaps a dozen of them--were not permitted access to their homes.

Meanwhile, officers were unable to make contact with Martin inside the house. The family has no land-line telephone and Martin no cell phone, so attempts were made to communicate via a squad car’s PA system but Martin did not respond, LaFlower said.

Shortly after the scene was secured, the SWAT Team began to deploy “multiple” CS gas canisters through the windows, LaFlower said. CS is an agent intended to produce a tearing of the eyes and other debilitating effects but it appeared not to incapacitate Martin, as he began firing an unknown type of rifle through the walls of the home and in officers’ direction, LaFlower said.

No one was hit. LaFlower estimated that Martin fired around six shots.

At that point, with the scene secure, the decision was made to “hold tight,” LaFlower said. But at 4:30 p.m., after several hours without any sign of movement inside the residence, two robots were deployed: one belonging to the PCSP Bomb Squad, the other to the Munster Police Department. The robots are equipped with camera, microphones, and lights and can be remote-operated.

At least one of the robots was placed inside the house, LaFlower said, after its operator guided it through the front door, which officers had already partially breached. “Robots will show you where a person’s not and where he most likely is,” LaFlower noted, and in this case the robot indicated the likelihood that Martin was inside a particular bedroom, because its door was the only one which the robot was unable to open.

Entry to the residence was then forced, LaFlower said, by means of the PCSP’s Peacekeeper armored vehicle, to which chains were attached. A grappling-type device was fitted to the other end of the chains, the device thrown through a window, and the window unit itself then pulled from the wall by the vehicle, LaFlower said.

More CS gas was deployed and the SWAT Team entered the bedroom, where they found Martin in a closet. Martin was ordered to exit the closet, he refused to comply, and at least one “less lethal” foam beanbag round was fired at him, LaFlower said.

He was then taken into custody, around 9 p.m.

Martin was naked and before being provided clothing he was “hosed down,” LaFlower said, to wash off the CS residue. He was then medically cleared at Porter Regional Hospital and transported to PCJ.

LaFlower did say that, as of mid-morning today, Judge Alexa’s commitment order had not been served on Martin.

LaFlower extended the PCSP’s gratitude both to Porter EMS and in particular to the Liberty Township Volunteer Fire Department, which was on the scene for very nearly the duration of the incident. The LTVFD not only provided fire protection--in the unlikely event a CS canister started something burning--but lighting at the scene after dark. In addition, the LTVFD provided the necessary hooks and chains used to remove the window, LaFlower said.

Evidence technicians were processing the scene today, LaFlower added.



Posted 8/15/2013