Police standoff ends peacefully - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Police standoff ends peacefully

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By Cade Fowler - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - What began as a 911 call in reference to shots fired just after midnght Thursday turned into a 5-hour police standoff. Dougherty County Police officers were called out to a home in the 2400 block Betty's Drive after neighbors told dispatchers that a man was firing a gun in the back yard.

Arriving officers heard those shots and soon learned the shooter, 29-year-old John Hardwick, was armed with a 12-gauge shotgun and a 9mm semi-automatic handgun.

Additional units were called in to assist after Hardwick went inside the home which is located in the College Heights Estates subdivision. Around 1 a.m., Dougherty County Police Chief Don Cheek requested assistance from the SWAT team while on-scene officers worked to establish communication with Hardwick.

As the standoff ensued, SWAT members surrounded the home as Hardwick periodically walked in and out of the house where two people remained locked in a bedroom.

"We never felt they were in any immediate danger. It was not a hostage situation," said Cheek.

With the standoff nearing its fifth hour, police were able to talk with Hardwick on the phone. This opportunity allowed his brother to speak with him, a conversation that proved vital in ending the standoff.

"After dialogue with us, his brother was able to talk to him. We convinced him to surrender his weapons. He came out voluntarily and peacefully and was transported from the scene," said Cheek.

SWAT members searched Hardwick for additional weapons and was taken by ambulance to undergo medical observation. Authorities say alcohol was involved and that an emotional issue involving family matters may have triggered the situation.

The SWAT team was called out to serve a precautionary measure but Chief Cheek applauded their role in the situation.

He said, "Putting them in this position allowed to secure the area, keep rest of the neighborhood safe. These men and women did a superb job out here."

Police say Hardwick had no prior criminal record. At this time, he has not been charged with a crime.

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