One in custody after standoff with gunman and house fire in Princeton, Illinois

Published: Mar. 15, 2019 at 10:47 PM CDT
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Residents say it's generally quiet and peaceful in Princeton, Illinois. Many say they were shocked to be woken by a heavy police presence including snipers in their neighborhood.

Princeton resident Michelle Morris "my oldest she's twenty and she woke me up and said there are swat guys in our garage, and I jumped out of bed. The swat guys came upstairs and actually used my middle daughter's room to get a good view. And they told us to stay in the basement or garage to keep cover"

Police say they received a call around 4 a.m. on Friday. It was a "call of a subject pointing at another subject (who was not harmed) and then he ran into (his own) residence," says Princeton Chief of Police Tom Kammerer.

Michelle watched the events unfold across the street from her window.

Police say the gunman "barricaded himself in the residence for nine hours we negotiated with him, state police, via telephone."

But what appeared to just be a standoff took a turn.

"Shortly you see white smoke white and then it's turning dark," says Morris.

Police Chief Tom Kammerer says the smoke started after the over nine hours of negotiation. "With the wind the flames kicked up pretty quick and he refused to come out," added Kammerer.

Michelle says after the fire started it was quiet for a while. "Then we saw his face pop up for a minute and he was trying to get air and they kept telling him come out to jump with their bull horn and told him get out your house on fire. I guess he was yelling at them and throwing books and doing this and trying to get them to shoot him in the head," says Morris.

The blaze had witnesses concerned that maybe he couldn't get out on his own.

"Ultimately we got him to come out the front door and he even resisted arrest at that point," says Chief Kammerer.

Right now he's being treated for smoke inhalation and is charged with aggravated unlawful use of a weapon. But the Princeton Police Chief says they're still conducting their investigation and there may be further charges related to the fire. But it will be a few weeks before law enforcement can definitively say how the fire started and whether the fire was started intentionally or accidentally.

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