Sgt. Bill Ridgeway of Cambridge Springs Police Department spent “the longest few minutes” of his police career (perhaps of his life) outside a home in the borough in bitter-cold temperatures Tuesday night.
Responding to a call that shots had been fired outside a local residence, he soon found himself facing a man who was pointing a rifle and shotgun at him.
When Ridgeway arrived at the scene, a Spring Street neighborhood, the suspect was back inside his home — one side of a duplex apartment. After the suspect was ordered to come out, Ridgeway saw the two guns as the man stepped from a shadowy area into the light.
Then, the suspect raised the guns, Ridgeway said. They were loaded and ready to fire, Ridgeway later found out.
Ridgeway, who was wearing a bullet-proof vest, quickly retreated to take cover behind a nearby parked vehicle. “I ordered him to drop the weapons. Eventually, he complied, after a few minutes. But they were the longest few minutes,” Ridgeway said.
The suspect, who has not been named, was then taken into custody. He will be arraigned “sometime Wednesday morning” before Saegertown-area Magisterial Judge Lincoln Zilhaver III, Ridgeway said, and will face charges of criminal trespass, reckless endangerment and making terroristic threats.
The first call came at 5:47 p.m. “Neighbors on the other side” of the duplex reported that the suspect had fired five shots outdoors, Ridgeway said. After he went back into his side of the house, he began to kick at a locked door connecting the two homes. Those residents then called 911, and when Ridgeway responded, arriving three minutes later, three adults were standing on the porch, bare-foot. He took them to his Cambridge Springs police cruiser to keep warm, then returned to the house.
“Basically, I got them out of there and secured them in my vehicle” before going back to the house, said Ridgeway, a veteran officer who has been with the Cambridge Springs department for nine years. But other thoughts of community safety were also racing through his mind. He called for police backup and also summoned Cambridge Springs firefighters to shut down all nearby intersections “because some people apparently heard about the incident (from emergency radio reports) and were nosing around. I was considering a plan to evacuate some of the neighbors.”
The incident ended peacefully a few minutes after the suspect stepped outside. After the original call at 5:47, Ridgeway had the suspect handcuffed just 20 minutes later, at 6:07. “I’m suspecting he was intoxicated,” Ridgeway said. “He appeared to be very intoxicated.”
As the suspect was apprehended, officers from Pennsylvania State Police’s Meadville barracks and from West Mead Township Police Department were arriving on the scene.