Harnett stand-off ends without injury, arrest

Jan. 29, 2013 @ 09:41 PM

Families were displaced and school bus rerouted Tuesday afternoon as the Harnett County Sheriff’s Office attempted to deal with a disturbed and armed individual in a neighborhood off of Buffalo Lake Road.

Sheriffs responded to a home in the 100 block of Brent Wood in the Carolina Hills neighborhood, a mobile home park just down the road from Carolina Lakes and several other neighborhoods.

“We don’t feel like any other residences are in danger,” Major Eddie Holder, who commands the county’s patrol officers, said Tuesday at about 5:30 p.m. Officers first responded at 1 p.m. and spent about six hours in the residence trying to calm the individual down, emerging successful just before 7 p.m. with no reported injuries or arrests.

Holder declined to release any information about the individual’s gender, race or any other identifying features other than to say the person was mentally disturbed. Harnett County Sheriff’s Office Maj. Jeff Huber of the operations department described the suspect as emotionally disturbed and added that the house contained firearms. Huber also said law enforcement had to ask some residents to evacuate their homes.

Neighbors didn’t seem to fear for their safety, with dozens milling about by the police blockade on Brent Wood discussing what might be going on just out of sight. Deputies did, however, advise the five local schools that send buses into the neighborhood to keep the students away and instead send the buses to nearby Highlands Elementary School for pick-up.

The schools in question were Highlands Elementary, Overhills High School, Overhills Middle School, Star Academy and Western Harnett High School, said the school district’s public relations director, Patricia Harmon-Lewis.

She said at about 4:30 p.m. that she was never told the nature of the situation, but that she was informed the area might be dangerous. Holder later said there were no specific threats or other reasons to think students might have been in danger, and that the bus situation was merely a precaution.

The schools called all the parents involved, Harmon-Lewis said, and Holder said his deputies likewise told anyone they saw on the scene about the changes. But even that wasn’t enough to reach many in the neighborhood.

Levonda Patrice McLean, who has a 7-year-old at Highlands, said she only heard about the bus changes while working on her car several blocks up from the incident and some passers by were talking about it.

“I figured it had to have been something bad for them to keep the buses away,” she said, although like most people approached for comments, she had more questions than answers.

Belinda Brown, a friend of McLean’s who has three children who were supposed to be on the buses home, said she only heard about the changes when McLean told her. And since she had no way of getting to the school to pick her kids up, she said she was glad her friend offered to get them for her.

Both parents said their children weren’t scared by the sudden change in plans, although she did say that this is the first time she’s ever seen such a large police presence in the neighborhood. Most vehicles were hidden out of view, but several witnesses estimated about a dozen cars responded and that at least some officers were in riot gear.

“Ain’t never had nothing like it,” Brown said. “We’re used to robberies, break-ins, but never nothing like this.”

News Editor Jennifer Gentile contributed to this report