Indiana, PA - Indiana County

Standoff in White Township ends when suspect surrenders

by on January 28, 2014 11:00 AM

A tenant of the Spring Meadows apartment complex in White Township surrendered to state police following an overnight standoff in bitter cold conditions with a heavily armed and outfitted tactical team — a confrontation rooted in a dispute over the treatment of a disobedient dog about six hours earlier.

Matthew Palmeri, 25, of 2220 Byron Court, gave himself up without incident at about 6:45 a.m. and was expected to be charged this morning, said Trooper John Matchik, a state police public relations officer.

The incident at Palmeri’s apartment, across Shelly Drive from the Poets Village housing complex, began about 12:30 a.m. with the report of a disturbance involving a gun.

[PHOTO: Heavily armed police responded overnight to an apartment complex near Poets Village along Shelly Drive in White Township in response to a report of a shot being fired. Police say nobody was injured.  (Tom Peel/Gazette photo)]

Investigators reaching the scene soon learned that Palmeri had a supply of automatic weapons in his residence, Matchik said, and officers called for the Special Emergency Response Team, known as SERT, to control the situation.

Matchik said police were first told of the disturbance by a visitor at Palmeri’s apartment.

The visitor, whose name was not released, told police he brought his dog with him, and that Palmeri’s dog, a husky, relieved itself on the floor.

After Palmeri hit the husky to correct its behavior, Matchik said, the visitor took both dogs and left the apartment. When he returned a short time later, he and Palmeri got into an argument, Palmeri drew a handgun, and one round was fired in the direction of the visitor.

No one was wounded, and no other shots were fired by police or Palmeri during the standoff, Matchik said.

After the gun went off, “the victim fled the residence and phoned 911,” Matchik explained. Some neighbors, who heard the shot, also fled their apartments, he said, but others were told to take shelter in their own homes. No evacuation was ordered.

“Intelligence gained during the incident led us to believe the suspect had access to multiple offensive weapons, including an AK-47, an M4 assault rifle, a semi-automatic shotgun, and the handgun involved in the struggle,” Matchik said.

Treating the incident as a case of a barricaded gunman, Matchik said, police blocked off Shelly Drive in the vicinity of the apartment, set up a command post, brought in heavy protective equipment such as armored, shielded vehicles, and tried for hours to contact Palmeri by telephone and over a public address system.

Numerous camouflaged and heavily armed troopers surrounded the apartment in sub-zero cold.

Ultimately, police contacted Palmeri and gave him specific instructions for ending the standoff.

Palmeri complied, Matchik said.

Afterward, police found weapons in the apartment, but Matchik said he did not know how many or what kind.

“It appears alcohol was involved in the incident and played a factor,” he said.

Police planned to charge him with aggravated assault, simple assault and recklessly endangering another person. A spokeswoman at the Indiana District Court indicated Palmeri was expected to be taken to the Indiana County Jail and to be formally charged by a remote video by Judge Guy Haberl.



Chauncey Ross is the Gazette’s fixture at Indiana Area and Homer-Center school board meetings, has been seen with pen and notepad in area police stations and courts, and is something of an Open Records Act and Sunshine Law advocate. He also manages the Gazette’s websites and answers your questions about them.
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