Man arrested after standoff
Police: Williams stole handgun, cash
TYRONE — A Tyrone man is behind bars after police say he stole a gun and cash and then forced a standoff with police.
Branden S. Williams, 32, of 2235 Morrissey Lane, Tyrone, allegedly took a .22-caliber handgun and a purse from a parked car in Tyrone on Monday night.
He sparked a standoff with police after he hid in a second-floor crawl space of his girlfriend’s townhouse apartment at 126 Cranberry St. in the Cold Springs Housing Development.
According to Tyrone police, about 10 p.m. Monday, officers encountered a distraught woman in the parking lot of Sheetz on Logan Avenue. The woman said that while her car was parked in the Pennsylvania House lot at Pennsylvania Avenue and 11th Street, someone had entered the partially open moonroof of her car and stole her purse and a .22-caliber handgun.
Police noted there was $950 in cash in the purse along with personal identity paperwork for her and her children.
The woman then started getting text messages from Williams, who she was acquainted with through mutual friends. She was on her way to a friend’s house after she discovered the theft. After she got the text messages, she pulled over in a dirt area along the road to contact a friend, police said. A short time later, an off-white Mercury Mountaineer pulled off the road and parked in front of her vehicle.
The woman told police that Williams got out of the Mountaineer’s passenger side door, walked up and pulled out the silver-colored handgun. Police said the woman claimed Williams started tapping on her window, speaking to her in a mumbled voice. When the woman locked all the doors, Williams allegedly tried getting into the vehicle through the moonroof.
The woman told police she tried putting her vehicle in reverse, but it was struck in the front by the Mountaineer, which was being driven by an unidentified person. The woman then was able to back up and pull away, heading back into Tyrone Borough where she pulled into Sheetz because of its cameras, police said.
The woman told police that Williams continued to send her text messages, telling her she could have the gun and money back if he met with her. He then began sending messages that threatened her and her family. According to the charges filed against Williams, the woman was able to show this text conversation to Tyrone police Officer John Feather at the Sheetz store.
Police noted that after Tyrone officers arrived and started talking to the woman, Williams continued to send text messages.
After talking to the woman, officers set out to find Williams, who was known to be staying at his girlfriend’s home.
When officers showed up at the girlfriend’s home, Feather could see Williams through a window, shaving his head, and when Feather and another officer approached the home, all of the lights were turned off.
Police noted that Williams owns two vehicles, including an off-white Mercury Mountaineer, and they were both parked outside the Cranberry Street residence. The Mountaineer also looked to have damage to its front end, police noted in the charges.
When police announced themselves, a neighbor walked outside and told the officers, “He won’t let her answer the door.”
After a few minutes, Williams’ girlfriend walked out of the home and told police Williams was hiding in a crawl space on the second floor.
After a standoff with police during which a state police Special Emergency Response Team was called in, Williams was taken into custody about noon Tuesday. He was covered in white drywall dust from his extraction by police from the apartment’s crawl space when he was led into Magisterial District Judge Fred Miller’s courtroom a few hours later for his arraignment on felony theft and gun charges.
Police said a subsequent search of the Cranberry Street home turned up the items that were reported stolen from the woman’s vehicle.
“I’ve never owned a damn gun,” Williams said, interrupting Judge Miller as he read the charges.
Miller reminded Williams, who has a significant criminal record and has appeared before the judge on numerous occasions, to not talk about the case and to not say anything until he was finished reading the charges.
During his arraignment, Williams told the court he has been “doing awesome” with his drug treatment program until Monday’s incident.
“I was doing the Suboxone program and everything,” Williams said. “I was doing all right and then this crap.”
Williams also complained he was hurt in his encounter with the state police after the standoff, although Tyrone police Chief John Romeo told the court that AMED personnel had checked Williams before he was taken to the Tyrone Police Department for processing.
In all, Williams is charged with felony charges of theft, illegal possession of a gun, carrying a firearm without a license and receiving stolen property, as well as misdemeanor charges of possession of a weapon and theft from a motor vehicle.
While deciding bail, Miller pointed out that Williams has a history of resisting police and also of not showing up to court. Feather told Miller that police believe Williams, who eluded Tyrone police for six months in 2013 when he was wanted for drug possession, was shaving his head when police arrived Monday night because he was trying to change his appearance.
Williams, who is on probation for a DUI, had a detainer placed on him by Blair County Adult Probation and Parole on Tuesday because of his arrest.
Bail was set at $150,000 cash, and Williams was lodged in Blair County Prison to await his preliminary hearing Tuesday.