Chief Younger defends police action in deadly standoff - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Chief Younger defends police action in deadly standoff

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June 5, 2007

Albany -- Jeremy Silas was asleep when he heard police arrive at 314 Station Crossing Lane. "I heard the police so I slipped my windows open and I heard them say hurry up and get outside of the house," says Jeremy.

Police were talking to 32-year-old Matthew Thomas, who according to police reports, pointed a gun at his girlfriend Sunday and threatened to kill her. When she attempted to go back to the home Monday, Thomas blocked the door, so she called 911.

According to police reports, it indicates that the woman who had been living in the home with Matthew Thomas had police escorts to help her retrieve some personal items from inside the duplex. When police arrived, they found Thomas barricaded inside the home with a revolver. From there, the situation intensified.

Dozens of officers responded to what would become nearly a three hour police standoff; Thomas refusing to cooperate with negotiators. At one point, even Thomas' father was allowed in the residence.

"The hostage negotiator made that decision along with the incident commander (to allow his father inside). I don't think it had a negative effect, but we do have a de-briefing in all of these situations," says Albany Police Chief James Younger.

Throughout the lengthy standoff, Albany Police handled the situation. But throughout the entire standoff, SWAT units never arrived. Chief Younger explained that the SWAT team was called to scene, but before they arrived he said, "the situation was resolved."

The situation had been resolved, but not until Mathew Thomas turned the gun on himself. When police entered the home, Thomas was dead from an apparent self inflicted gunshot wound. According to Chief Younger, there was little more that could have been done to prevent this from happening.

"Based on the information that we have, unless there had been divine intervention, he would have committed suicide," says Younger. 

With the investigation still ongoing, Chief Younger added, " We review all of these types of situations. We look at what could have been done differently and what we did well."

Mathew Thomas did have a lengthy criminal past.  He had previously served a 7-year sentence for a Dougherty County robbery.

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