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Police arrest man after seven-hour stand-off

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A man who barricaded himself in an abandoned building in Pembroke was arrested after a seven-hour stand-off yesterday.

Earlier, the 69-year-old had thrown what a police spokesman described as a corrosive substance at officers attempting to convince him to leave.

Officers then negotiated with the man, who was inside the former prison headquarters on Happy Valley Road, near the junction with Curving Avenue.

He was “detained without incident” at 6.10pm — an hour after a dozen police went inside.

The spokesman said: “Police officers entered and conducted a search of the building, following extensive negotiation efforts, with no report of any injuries to the man or the officers involved.

“The man is expected to be charged with trespassing, assault on police and wilful damage. He is currently in police custody.”

The incident began when police carried out checks on the building at about 10.30am.

Police in protective gear were called in as a host of vehicles and an ambulance stood by.

Residents said they did not believe the squatter posed any threat.

Martha Dismont, executive director for Family Centre, called for understanding.

“We need advocates on this island,” she said.

“When we get to know the people behind some of these situations, we realise the people are really sad.

“It just becomes a stand-off instead of people asking ‘Why are you doing this? What's wrong? What's happened to this person?'

“That's the difference — understanding the circumstances behind the behaviour.

“If we could just do that as a country more it would make a big difference.”

During the siege, Sylvia Gibbons, 62, said police had contacted her after the man asked for her by name.

She said: “From what I know, the police are trying to get him off of the property. They're trying to talk to him and get him to, I guess, understand the reason why he needs to leave.”

Ms Gibbons, who lives on Parsons Road, said the man believed the building stood on his personal property, and that she occasionally hired him for work.

“He's a good man — very helpful and very giving. He takes care of his business and he takes care of himself.”

She added: “I feel for him; I feel for anyone going through anything like this, especially when it comes to property in Bermuda.”

Ms Gibbons said that she knew the man felt threatened and feared the police were “adding fuel to the fire”.

She said he was “protecting what's his and standing for what he believes in”.

“I don't think there's anything wrong with that, but he has to go by the law.

“It's just sad that he's going through this; it breaks my heart.”

Psalms Williams, 42, witnessed the stand-off begin as he returned home from work.

He added: “He's a nice guy — very humble, very polite. There's nothing wrong with the guy; he just needs help.”

Mr Williams, who knew the man for most of his life, described him as a hard-working “family guy” who enjoyed planting vegetables and was “just trying to find a place to stay”.

Mr Williams added: “Everybody would tell you that the guy's been staying there for a long time.”

Mr Williams said he believed the police presence had exacerbated the situation.

He said: “I know that the police are doing their job, but the guy needs a place to stay.

“The guy's probably scared as hell; he's almost 70 years old.”

Photograph by Blaire Simmons

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Published March 29, 2019 at 9:00 am (Updated March 29, 2019 at 10:35 am)

Police arrest man after seven-hour stand-off

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