A pair of police robots are being hailed as heroes in Colorado, after they stormed a house in which a possibly drug-addled, armed man had barricaded himself.
Officers seem likely to be enjoying celebratory doughnuts and battery charging back at the station after a four-day siege ended in the town of Greeley, Colorado, on Thursday.
The siege began on the weekend of the 13/14 June when Jacob Powell, 30, who had been released from jail having earlier been arrested on suspicion of stealing his parents' car, returned to the family home. His parents, apparently believing him still to be behind bars, had gone away on a trip.
Police subsequently tried to re-arrest Powell but he retreated into the house. As he was thought to have been indulging in recreational pharmaceuticals and to be armed with a high-powered rifle, the cops decided to proceed with caution.
Several days of different tactics followed. Loudhailer negotations and attempts to strike up a dialogue by throwing mobile phones in through the windows and then calling them were interspersed with occasional volleys of tear gas and flash-bang stun grenades for a bit of variety.
None of this worked, and so on Wednesday night a pair of police robots were sent in. According to the Greeley Tribune:
It was the two robots that ultimately flushed Powell out of his hiding space inside the home, said Capt. Mike Savage.
“We knew he was moving inside the home, but it was the robot team that was eventually able to give us a visual,” Savage said. “He (Powell) probably figured it was futile to continue trying to hide inside the home and he finally complied with our commands to give himself up.”
The two robots reached their respective positions inside of the home about 2:10 a.m. Thursday and began sweeping the home in search of Powell. SWAT officers slowly began to enter the home as rooms were cleared one by one by the robots.
A rifle was indeed discovered by the courageous tin cops during their attack, but when Powell was finally nabbed he was unarmed. Human officers following up on the robots' arrest apparently shot him anyway, but only with a "less-lethal" projectile in the leg, so that was OK. Powell is now in the Weld County cooler charged with felony fugitive from justice, and will appear before a local beak on Tuesday.
Despite the fact that nobody was killed, there has been some local grumbling about the cost of the operation, which apparently involved up to 30 police both mechanical and fleshy, and saw large amounts of gas and concussion grenades expended. The Powell home was also, as is common in such incidents, largely destroyed during the process of liberating it. Also, the police operational command post - where senior officers watched video from the robots as the storming went ahead - was set up in an Italian restaurant, so it's conceivable that there may have been substantial expenditure on pizza.
“Dad (Myron Powell) is not going to be too happy when he sees what we had to do tonight, but you can replace windows and doors; you can’t replace people,” said Greeley Police Chief Jerry Garner. ®