A gunman is barricaded inside his apartment in Pottstown and refusing to surrender to police officers, the borough's police chief said late this afternoon.
Chief Mark D. Flanders issued a press release saying that the man, who remains unidentified, fired at police at 2:37 p.m. today when they tried to talk him into leaving the building.
"At this time the individual is still barricaded inside of his apartment and refusing to surrender to police," Flanders said in the release.
No one was injured or in custody as darkness fell.
The chief's statement appears to bear out reports from a woman huddling in a home basement near the standoff scene. She told her husband she heard "a ton of gunshots" at mid-afternoon.
"My wife just heard a ton of gunshots," John Shoen, pool manager of the Mary Robin Brigham Aquatic Center in Berwyn, e-mailed a reporter at 3:24 p.m. "She is on Logan Street in the basement of my sister's house with my son. She called me on her cell phone crying."
Shoen said his wife and son were in the basement at 713 Logan, maybe 10 houses from the Logan Court Apartments where the standoff was occurring.
He said he told her to stay there to avoid any stray bullets.
The report of gunfire came after officers deployed a flash-bang device at about 2 p.m. A helicopter was on standby, as the drama unfolded.
The incident began at 7:35 a.m. when police were called to the complex at Logan and Gay Streets to handle a disturbance. While speaking with a resident, "a gunshot was heard from inside of the apartment building," Flanders said.
It wasn't clear who was shooting or where the shot came from, Flanders said. Police cordoned off the area and evacuated anyone who might be in danger.
Flanders said at 11:15 a.m., Pottstown officers and Chester Montgomery Emergency Response Team members began a systematic search of the B building and were able to figure out where the shots had originated.
As they negotiated with the man, the shots rang out at police from inside the man's ground-floor unit in the B building.
The SWAT team, known informally as CMERT, is highly trained to respond to high-risk situations, including those of barricaded individuals.
Complex residents said they believed that the shooter had fired at the door of the maintenance man's quarter's in the B building Monday morning, and that the same gunman had been the focus of a police response two weeks ago, but police would not confirm that scenario.
"It's an evolving situation," was all the Pottstown police dispatcher would say.
At noon, Juli Burke, 44, who lives in the A building with her 8-year-old son, was told by Pottstown police to evacuate immediately.
An official knocked on the door and said, "Ma'am you're going to have to leave."
Burke said residents of the C building had told her they could see the as-yet-unidentified gunman pacing back and forth in his living room in the B wing, still holding his weapon. But police could not confirm that either.
The apartment complex consists of four wings - A, B, C and D, Burke said. Each living room has a balcony and a big window.
At 8 a.m., Burke was cleaning the snow from her car in order to take her son to school, when she was approached by a police officer, who told her to go inside.
"It's a little nerve wracking to know that something as serious as this is going on," Burke said.
Follow the Inquirer at
» READ MORE: www.Twitter.com/PhillyInquirer
» READ MORE: www.Facebook.com/PhillyInquirer