(PORTLAND, OR) — One person is in custody after Portland Police officers responded to a residence Wednesday afternoon on the report of an assault that turned into an hour-long standoff.
The adult female caller reported to the 9-1-1 dispatcher that her 59-year-old boyfriend assaulted her daughter and that her daughter and 16-year-old grandson were hiding in the basement. Additionally, the caller reported that the suspect had access to a handgun in the house and he was “out of control” trying to break down a door.
As officers arrived, the adult daughter and grandson escaped from the house and told police that the suspect had a rifle and a handgun. Officers attempted to call into the house to talk to the suspect but there was no response.
An officer was able to get the caller on the phone, and learned that she was unable to escape the house and was now hiding in the basement. The caller told the officer that the suspect was in the basement looking for her but she was well hidden, under the front porch area.
Due to the suspect reportedly being armed and searching the house for the caller, Sergeants at the scene activated the Special Emergency Reaction Team (SERT) and Crisis Negotiation Team (CNT) to respond.
As SERT and CNT were responding, the caller stayed on the phone with a police officer providing updates about what she could hear in the house. The officer shared those updates with fellow officers while keeping the woman calm and quiet so the suspect would not find her in the basement.
Thomas Stephen Elia
Officers outside the residence could hear the suspect yelling, “I’m going to kill you,” that he was “going to find you wherever you are and kill you,” and that he was going to “shoot it out” with the police.
Officers outside the residence were using a PA system to loud hail the house to get the suspect on the phone. The suspect continued to yell, “I have a gun. I’m going to kill her and kill the police.”
After more than an hour of the caller remaining on the line with the police officer, and numerous failed attempts to get the reportedly armed suspect to answer the phone, the decision was made to have SERT perform a hostage rescue and make entry into the home.
At approximately 6:35 p.m., East Precinct Captain Mark Kruger, the Critical Incident Commander at the scene, directed SERT to immediately initiate the hostage rescue. SERT officers deployed numerous “flash bangs” (non-lethal explosive devices) to disorient and distract the suspect as they made entry.
The suspect was confronted inside the residence where he immediately complied with SERT officers and was taken into custody without incident or injury. The suspect was not armed at the time of his arrest.
SERT officers then cleared the entire house and located the caller, who was still hidden in the basement. She was unharmed during the entire episode.
After the residence was secured, officers began conducting an investigation into the initial assault. Officers recovered a .22 rifle in the suspect’s vehicle but did not locate any guns in the residence.
Several residences were evacuated during the stand-off but after the scene was secured, neighborhood order was quickly restored.
The suspect, identified as Thomas Stephen Elia, was charged with Assault in the Fourth Degree (Domestic Violence/Felony) and Menacing.