Did the spirit of Christmas help end a 10-hour standoff between police and and an armed suspect in Pennsylvania? Authorities sure think so.
Nathaniel R. Lewis, 34, of East Vincent Township, was coaxed out of his house after a tense showdown with law enforcement - which included him allegedly shooting at officers multiple times - after a SWAT negotiator sang the holiday standard "White Christmas."
The standoff began on Christmas night when Lewis, apparently upset about a separation from his wife, allegedly fired four shots from a rifle in the presence of his sister-in-law before barricading himself in his house, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. Lewis’ wife then called police.
The Chester County Regional Emergency Response Team arrived on the scene and a negotiator attempted to get him to surrender peacefully but Lewis refused. Instead, he spoke about “killing police and shooting up the neighborhood,” according to an affidavit cited by the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Lewis allegedly shot at officers multiple times during the incident and struck an armored police vehicle. No officers were injured. Police said they fired back multiple times as well. The exchange of gunfire went on for hours.
What stopped it?
After nearly 10 hours, at about 7 a.m. the day after Christmas, police say Lewis asked a negotiator to sing a holiday classic.
“He requested ‘White Christmas,’ the Nat King Cole version," Chester County District Attorney Thomas Hogan told the Philadelphia Inquirer.
A negotiator, who has over 10 years of SWAT team experience, obliged and it worked. Lewis surrendered at the end of the song.
"That's a Christmas miracle in our book, all because one negotiator was willing to sing him a Christmas carol," Hogan told local outlet WGAL-TV. "[It was a] tremendous job all around."
Lewis was then arrested without further incident. He faces 11 charges of attempted homicide of a police officer and he is expected to also face an attempted murder charge in regards to his sister-in-law. He’s being held without bail and is due in court on Jan. 7.
It’s not clear if he has a lawyer who can speak on his behalf at this time.
[Photo: Chester County Prison]
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