NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

December 14, 2012

Police successful in 6-hour standoff

Chief: 'No injuries ... best possible outcome'

By James Niedzinski
Staff Writer

---- — GLOUCESTER — Police successfully talked a Gloucester resident from the edge of suicide during a standoff lasting nearly six hours.

Cleveland Garron, 48, barricaded himself alone in his Beauport Avenue residence around 8:30 p.m. Wednesday. Police arrived after receiving a phone call from someone outside the house.

He remained there until about 3 a.m. Thursday, spending most of the time with a gun to his head, pacing back and forth within his house, refusing to talk to police, before surrending.

He faces charges of disturbing the peace, disorderly conduct, threatening to commit a crime, possession of a firearm and ammunition without licenses and possession of a dangerous weapon.

Negotiations began immediately with the arrival of 10 Gloucester police officers. Approximately 45 minutes later, an additional 30 rapid response team members arrived, including negotiators and Special Weapons and Tactics team members from the North East Law Enforcement Council.

At first, Garron refused to speak to police, claiming they were not trustworthy, and slammed the door. Police managed to open a line of communication with him, first through a public address system and eventually obtaining his cellphone number, police Chief Leonard Campanello said.

The negotiators repeatedly told the man that they didn’t want to hurt him, “that everyone has a bad day,” and to just come out and talk.

Police tactics also included shining spotlights on the house shortly after arrival, and having National Grid cut the power around midnight. Shortly after, police shot tear gas into the windows, to try to force the man out of the home. The man soon came to the front door, brandishing a silver gun, and spoke to police for few minutes, sometimes yelling, before going back inside.

Police then shot some more gas into the home.

The man came out of the front door, holding a rag to his face and his gun to his head, a witness said.

The man would not put gun down, but stood on the porch talking with police. Most of the time he held the gun to head, witnesses said, while negotiators repeatedly asked him to put it down.

The police shot some more teargas onto the porch, and a witness said the man started yelling and dancing around to try to avoid the gas. The man then tried to throw the teargas canisters off the porch, while still holding the gun.

The man stayed on the porch, standing behind a column.

Negotiators made a more personal connection to him from the porch, first using the public address system, then talking to him face to face, Campanello said.

Finally, after hours of a tense patience and back and forth talks with officers, Garron said, “I’m putting the gun down,” and calmly placed it on the porch railing, at 3 a.m. He put his hands in the air cooperatively. After being handcuffed by a SWAT officer, he was promptly handed over to Gloucester police officers.

Campanello said although the standoff was lengthy, there was a good balance of patience, as situations such as these can become a public emergency issue if drawn out too long.

From there, Garron was transported to Addison Gilbert Hospital, to make sure there was no permanent or lingering damage from the tear gas.

“It was a very difficult negotiation that was handled extremely well by Gloucester police,” Campanello said. “In this case, he was very dangerous.”

An hour later, he was brought to the police station where he was charged.

He was held overnight at the station. According to police logs, Garron said he was hearing voices while in his cell; officers went to talk him and calm him down.

“We are very pleased the outcome resulted in no injuries to the police officers or the public and no injuries to the suspect himself,” Campanello said Thursday after the incident. “It was the best possible outcome.”

Garron is set to be arraigned today in Gloucester District Court.