By DAN DEARTH and C.J. LOVELACE
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6:35 PM EDT, May 18, 2012
A Hagerstown man has been charged with firing gunshots at police during a standoff that lasted more than three hours Friday at his home in the Cortland Manor development.
Neil Shawn LaPine, 49, of 12962 Little Hayden Circle was charged with one count each of first-degree assault and second-degree assault, city police Lt. Paul Kifer said.
LaPine was also facing charges of possession of a firearm and discharging a firearm in city limits, according to news release from city spokeswoman Erin Wolfe.
“He was just having some issues,” Kifer said. “I don’t know what got him to that point ... but the negotiators did a really good job of talking him down from that highly depressed state of wanting to hurt himself.”
LaPine was taken into custody at 3:05 p.m. and transported to Meritus Medical Center near Hagerstown to be treated for minor injuries, Wolfe said.
Negotiators played an important role in convincing LaPine to put down his weapons and leave the house, Kifer said.
“Once we were able to do that, everything kind of got calmed down,” Kifer said. “The negotiators really did a fabulous job. They were able to really get him thinking about what was going on and got him to agree to come out peacefully, and to get himself turned over to the (Washington County Special Response) Team.”
Police were called to the private community off Leitersburg Pike at about 11:30 a.m. for a report of shots fired.
When officers arrived, they went to neighbors of the home on Little Hayden Circle, knocked on doors and asked them to leave the area, Wolfe said.
City Police Chief Arthur Smith said at the scene that a man who appeared to be despondent had barricaded himself inside a home and fired several shots.
At one point during the standoff, LaPine walked out of the house with a handgun, and officers tried to take him into custody using a nonlethal method, the release said. Wolfe later said police had fired a hard-foam pellet at him.
LaPine ran back into the house and fired in the direction of police, although the exact number of shots was not known, Wolfe said.
Mel Harnish lives about 50 yards from LaPine’s townhouse on Little Hayden Circle. He said he heard what sounded like a gunshot shortly after 11 a.m., then a second noise at about 1:15 p.m. that sounded like a small explosion.
“The second shot, I’m not sure what it was,” Harnish said.
Harnish said he could hear communication between the man and a police officer who was behind a large landscaping rock.
Police were advising people to stay in their homes, Harnish said. “Everyone in Cortland Manor is kind of stuck here. We can’t get in or out of here.”
Tom Snee from Washington, Pa., who was visiting his in-laws on Little Hayden Circle, said he was outside and heard what he thought were three shots.
One of the shots sounded like it was from a high-powered rifle, and the other two sounded like they were from a smaller-caliber weapon, he said.
“We were outside enjoying the nice day,” Snee said.
Then police came around and told them to go inside. There also was an automated phone alert telling people to stay away from doors and windows.
“When you see this much activity, you know it’s serious,” Snee said.
Washington County Public Schools held bused students at Northern Middle, Pangborn Elementary and North Hagerstown High schools until police opened up the neighborhood, school system spokesman Richard Wright said at about 2:30 p.m.
Parents and other emergency contacts for students were sent e-mail and phone alerts notifying them of the situation, Wright said.
Rifle-toting police wearing camouflage fatigues took up positions inside the development during the standoff.
Washington County Sheriff Douglas Mullendore also was at the scene. Two officers could be seen in black T-shirts with the word “Negotiator” lettered in white.
At least a dozen emergency vehicles were in the neighborhood, including the Hagerstown Police Mobile Command Center and a county special response team truck.
Staff writers Don Aines and Julie E. Greene contributed to this story.
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