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Chester County man shoots at 11 officers, surrenders when he hears a Christmas carol

Nathaniel R. Lewis, of Spring City, Pa., was charged with trying to kill multiple police officers on Christmas Day during a SWAT situation. Lewis asked to hear a holiday carol. He surrendered when a police negotiator sang White Christmas.

Nathaniel Lewis, 34, of Spring City, Pa.
Nathaniel Lewis, 34, of Spring City, Pa.Read moreChester County District Attorney's Office

A Chester County man who barricaded himself in his home on Christmas night and shot multiple times at 11 SWAT officers surrendered nine hours later when a negotiator sang him the holiday carol “White Christmas,” authorities said Thursday.

Nathaniel R. Lewis, 34, of East Vincent, was charged Wednesday with 11 counts of attempted murder, aggravated assault, and related crimes. In an interview Thursday, Chester County District Attorney Thomas Hogan said Lewis was stressed from the process of separating from his wife during the holidays.

Around 7:30 p.m. on Christmas, Lewis' sister-in-law checked on him at his Aftons Circle home because other family members had been unable to reach him, authorities said.

He had barricaded the door, but she forced her way in and found him holding a rifle, which he then used to fire four shots, according to an affidavit of probable cause for his arrest. About an hour later, Lewis’ estranged wife asked East Vincent police to go to the home for a wellness check.

At 10:30 p.m., the Chester County Regional Emergency Response Team arrived. A negotiator used Lewis' wife’s cell phone to call him and persuade him to surrender peacefully, but Lewis instead talked about “killing police and shooting up the neighborhood,” according to the affidavit.

At 12:47 a.m. Wednesday, authorities said, members of the Emergency Response Team heard several gunshots fired from a second-floor window, then a shot from inside the house.

As the sun rose at 6:05 a.m., authorities said, Lewis sprayed bullets from the second floor, striking an armored police vehicle. Police fired once into Lewis' home.

At 6:11 a.m., authorities said, Lewis shot at police, then again at 6:15 a.m. Police fired back both times, according to the affidavit.

Around 7 a.m., Lewis asked to hear a negotiator sing a Christmas carol, authorities said.

“He requested ‘White Christmas,’ the Nat King Cole version," Hogan said Thursday. The negotiator, who has more than a decade of SWAT team experience, began to sing, Hogan said.

Lewis then came out and surrendered.

Inside the house, police found shell casings on the second floor, a rifle, and two magazines on the bed in the master bedroom, according to the affidavit. No officers were injured in the standoff.

Lewis was taken to the Chester County Prison after he was unable to post bail. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for Jan. 7, 2019. Hogan said Lewis will also be charged with attempted murder related to shooting at his sister-in-law, who was not injured.