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Armed hostage standoff ends peacefully in Middleton

Union Leader Correspondent

January 31. 2013 5:25PM
State and local police from around the area responded to block off numerous roads and around a home along Lakeshore Drive in Middleton after an armed homeless man took a woman hostage Thursday afternoon. (John Quinn/Union Leader Correspondent)

MIDDLETON - State and local police rushed to town after a "heavily armed suspect" barricaded himself and a woman in her Lakeshore Drive home for about three hours Thursday afternoon.

Police responded around 2:10 p.m. after receiving a report that the man broke into his brother's home on Lakeshore Drive and took multiple weapons - including rifles, handguns, and an AK-47 - as well as magazines and ammunition, according to Sgt. Jason Lamontagne.

Police Chief Randy Sobel said the man, who was later identified as Richard Pettey, 35, walked to another home and took a woman hostage. He added police are looking into the relationship between the two as part of the ongoing investigation.

Sobel said Pettey was charged with armed robbery from a previous incident Thursday, as well as felony theft of firearms and kidnapping following his alleged actions along Lakeshore Drive. As police secured the scene around the home, Sobel said school officials in Farmington, where Middleton students attend classes, were notified of the situation. As a result, he added, the schools were put in a "soft lock down" as a precaution.

Students returned home following the incident. Initially, police closed off several nearby roads as a precaution, but eventually reopened many streets to let residents come and go. Nonetheless, Lakeshore Drive and the area around the home were closed.

"We have an immediate action team in place," Lamontagne said at the scene, adding members of the State Police's tactical team responded to assist.

State Police Col. Robert Quinn praised the efforts of police who helped secure the scene, safeguard the community and begin negotiations. He added this gave State Police time to respond and help resolve the issue without incident.

"This case has potential for extreme violence," Quinn said, adding he credited the success to the tremendous effort and teamwork of all who responded.

Local officers were assisted at the scene by members of Farmington, Milton, New Durham and Wolfeboro police, members of Strafford County Sheriff's Department and State Police - including members of the Major Crime Unit. Sobel said Pettey, who was taken to the Strafford County Jail in Dover, was scheduled to be arraigned in 7th Circuit Court in Rochester Friday at 11 a.m.

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