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Chesco standoff with armed mother - after a judge had returned her gun

After a tense weekend standoff with a heavily armed woman, police in West Caln Township could be forgiven for saying "We told you so."

After a tense weekend standoff with a heavily armed woman, police in West Caln Township could be forgiven for saying "We told you so."

A 35-year-old mother with a pistol, rifle, and shotgun held authorities at bay for 61/2 hours at her home in the Chester County community, refusing to release two of her children until officers arrested her early Sunday, police said.

They had been to her address before. Earlier this year, West Caln Police Chief Curt A. Martinez said, officers with a search warrant removed a handgun from the home after a domestic-disturbance call. But Brazzilia V. Rutherford went to court and got the gun back.

"We had argued that the instability in that household made the gun especially dangerous," Martinez said.

At 7 p.m. Saturday, the chief said, police were called to the home in the 200 block of Sandy Way because of a domestic dispute and a "possible barricaded subject." Officers found Rutherford's husband, Rodney L., lying in the front yard with head injuries, Martinez said.

The husband told police that his wife had pistol-whipped him and that she was inside with two of their three children, who range in age from 8 to 15, Martinez said.

The third child returned home during the standoff and was intercepted by police.

After officers tried several times to make contact with people inside the home, nearby residences were evacuated and others were told to stay in their basements for their safety, Martinez said.

He said several police agencies, including the Western Chester County Emergency Response Team, along with ambulance and fire companies assisted in the standoff.

Police negotiators eventually spoke with Brazzilia Rutherford, but she repeatedly refused to let her children leave, Martinez said. She was finally taken into custody without incident at 1:26 a.m. after officers forced open the door.

Rutherford was taken to Chester County Prison, after failing to post $100,000 bail, to await a preliminary hearing Friday. She faces charges that include aggravated assault, possessing an instrument of crime, and endangering the welfare of children.

Her husband was released from Brandywine Hospital after being treated for his injuries, police said.

Chester County Assistant District Attorney Norm Pine said he had been contacted in April by West Caln police after officers learned that a .380-caliber Bersa pistol seized by police was being returned to Brazzilia Rutherford.

"After police gave me information that suggested this woman was a danger to herself and others, I filed a motion to vacate the order," Pine said. "I think the West Caln police should be lauded for calling me. They acted professionally and were concerned about public safety."

The prosecutor said Rutherford was "pretty convincing" in court when she assured Senior Judge Charles B. Smith that, in Pine's words, "this won't happen again."

In May, Smith signed an order directing that the gun - legally owned by Rutherford, authorities said - be returned to her.

Efforts to reach the judge for comment late Monday were unsuccessful.