Police end hostage standoff in New Jersey; suspect dead

NEWARK, New Jersey Sun May 12, 2013 5:57pm EDT

1 of 3. Police officers stand guard near a house, where an armed man with multiple hostages remain barricaded in, in Trenton, New Jersey, May 11, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Eduardo Munoz

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NEWARK, New Jersey (Reuters) - Three children trapped all weekend in a New Jersey bedroom with a gunmen and the dead body of their mother were freed early Sunday when police burst through the door and stopped the gunman with a single shot, authorities said.

The suspect died of his wound shortly after the siege ended.

A SWAT team using flash-bang grenades stormed a back door of the home in Trenton about 3:45 a.m. EDT Sunday and moved to the second floor, where they fired the single shot at gunman Gerald Tyrone Murphy before taking him into custody, State Police Colonel Rick Fuentes told a news conference.

Another official said the children had been trapped inside the room for at least the length of the standoff.

"I have every reason to believe that the kids were in the room and that they were possibly restrained during" the standoff, Mercer County prosecutor Joseph Bocchini Jr. said at the news conference.

Officials said the girls, both teenagers, may have been physically abused by Murphy, 38, a convicted sex offender.

The partially decomposed bodies of Carmelita Stevens, 44, believed to be Murphy's girlfriend, and her 13-year-old son were discovered in different second-floor bedrooms of the two-story home in Trenton, a rundown city that is the state capital, authorities said.

Murphy had threatened to harm his hostages - Stevens' two daughters, 16 and 18, and her 4-year-old son - and claimed to have a gun and explosives. Officials declined to say whether any explosives were recovered.

Murphy had barricaded himself inside the house on Friday afternoon after police were called to check on a resident there, a Trenton police spokesman said on Friday.

Police went to the home after an unidentified relative of Stevens reported to authorities that neither she nor some of her children had been seen since April 24, Trenton Police Director Ralph Rivera said.

Once there, officers noticed an odor and discovered the partially decomposed body of a woman, but pulled back when they saw Murphy had a gun, Rivera said.

Police said Murphy was not the father of any of the children.

Fuentes said hostage negotiators had maintained contact with Murphy throughout the ordeal, passing food and water through an upper window. Residents on the surrounding block were evacuated during the standoff as a precaution.

Murphy had an extensive criminal record, including arrests for robbery, a weapons offense and child endangerment, according to Bocchini. An arrest warrant had been issued in Pennsylvania for Murphy after he failed to register there as a convicted sex offender.

(Reporting by David Jones; Editing by Chris Francescani, Maureen Bavdek and Philip Barbara)

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Comments (10)
Dr_Steve wrote:
So, now it seems that every nickel and dime shooting merits Reuters’ world wide attention. Aside from that, it seems that this perpetrator had an extensive criminal record, including for weapons and violent behavior. So, how did he get his gun? Do you really think a background check would have prevented this guy from obtaining a gun? Kind of makes you wonder about the political agenda here.

May 12, 2013 1:01pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
flashrooster wrote:
Just think, if the hostage taker had more guns and ammo he could have held off longer and maybe even taken some cops down with him. The more guns the better, right?

Of course if having more guns really made us safer the US would have the lowest rates of gun violence in the world, seeing how we have the most guns per capita (over 50% more than the next highest ranked country.)

Do conservatives consider the Japanese to be an especially dumb country? I ask this because they have very strict gun control laws and very low civilian gun ownership levels. So according to conservative logic the Japanese should be reeling in gun violence. But the truth disproves this conservative “logic.” Japan has the lowest percentage of gun violence per capita than any other developed nation. So if guns make us safer how is it that the citizens of a nation with very few guns can live virtually fear-free of gun violence? Would any one like to explain this “anomaly”? Bear in mind that Japan is not really an anomaly.

May 12, 2013 1:27pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
flashrooster wrote:
Just think, if the hostage taker had more guns and ammo he could have held off longer and maybe even taken some cops down with him. The more guns the better, right?

Of course if having more guns really made us safer the US would have the lowest rates of gun violence in the world, seeing how we have the most guns per capita (over 50% more than the next highest ranked country.)

Do conservatives consider the Japanese to be an especially dumb country? I ask this because they have very strict gun control laws and very low civilian gun ownership levels. So according to conservative logic the Japanese should be reeling in gun violence. But the truth disproves this conservative “logic.” Japan has the lowest percentage of gun violence per capita than any other developed nation. So if guns make us safer how is it that the citizens of a nation with very few guns can live virtually fear-free of gun violence? Would any one like to explain this “anomaly”? Bear in mind that Japan is not really an anomaly.

May 12, 2013 1:27pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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