2007-05-09 / Front Page

Resident arrested after armed standoff with police

MIDDLETOWN - After a three-hour standoff, which included one round of ammunition being fired, a township resident was charged with aggravated assault and possessing a weapon for an unlawful purpose.

James Pepa, 60, Danemar Drive, was spotted getting into his pickup truck with a shotgun at about 6 p.m. May 1, prompting a neighbor to phone the police. Three hours later, Pepa put down his weapon and was taken into custody. According to Police Lt. Joseph Capriotti, Sgt. Richard Deickmann, who has about a decade's worth of experience as a trained hostage negotiator, dealt with Pepa.

At one point during the standoff, Pepa fired a round from his shotgun, which went toward a tree and over an officer's head. There were no reports of any injuries among officers or local residents.

"We're not really sure yet if he [Pepa] shot his gun by accident or if he really meant to shoot at somebody," Capriotti said Friday. "But we do know that his gun was loaded

Capriotti said he is unsure if Pepa had any criminal record or medical condition that may have caused the incident to occur.

"In the end, maybe his main target was himself and maybe he had problems," Capriotti said. "Sgt. Deickmann did an outstanding job of handling the situation before it escalated."

The next day, while locked up, Pepa complained of shortness of breath and was taken to Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank. His bail was set at $100,000.

Repeated attempts to reach Deickmann were unsuccessful.

- Dan Newman

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