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5-27-2009 New York:

A three-hour standoff at the Dutchess County Sheriff's Office ended when the suspect shot and killed himself, police said.

In a press conference this evening, the Dutchess County Sheriff's Office said an investigation was ongoing into the standoff , which left one detective injured from a grazing gunshot. The detective was treated and released from Saint Francis Hospital.

The sheriff's office refused to release the name of the detective or the suspect, citing the ongoing investigation the office is conducting. The Journal learned the suspect was Ken-Tweal Catts, 30.

Suspect's background

Catts was a level-three sex offender. He was described as a black Hispanic who was six feet tall, 172 pounds with black hair and brown eyes, according to the New York State Department of Justice Web site.

His last reported address was a hotel in Hyde Park.

Catts entered a guilty plea on January 27, 2004 for first-degree sexual assault, a felony. Catts had told Dutchess County Court Judge Thomas J. Dolan that he touched a 17-year-old woman and forced her to touch him in an apartment building on Main Street in 2002. On March 11, 2004, he was sentenced to two years in state prison.

Struggle, shooting

Catts was brought into the Dutchess County Sheriff's Office for questioning in an alleged sexual offense case. He was scheduled to be arrested and arraigned, the sheriff's office said.

Two detectives were in the room for the interview, which was wrapping up, when a struggle ensued. Catts grabbed a detective's gun and fired, the sheriff's office said.

“While being prepared for arraignment, the suspect attempted to escape and struggled with a detective, gaining control of the detective’s weapon,” Sheriff Butch Anderson said in a prepared statement.

Undersheriff Kirk Imperati said the gun was a 40-caliber semiautomatic pistol.

The man then barricaded himself in an unoccupied office. About three hours later, Imperati said, members of the sheriff’s Emergency Services Unit heard a gunshot, entered the office and found the man dead on the floor.

Detective treated, released

The wounded detective was identified by sources close to the investigation as Matthew Burhans.

Imperati said a bullet grazed the detective on the side of his head. He was treated at Saint Francis Hospital and released.

Back to normal

Roads around the sheriff's office in the City of Poughkeepsie have been reopened after being closed much of the afternoon. Sheriff's office employees who had been cleared out of the building were let back in after the incident ended with the suspects' death. Correction officers, however, were being allowed in and out of the jail, which is adjacent to the sheriff's office.

Rare occurrence

The armed standoff at the Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office today was apparently unprecedented.

Those with years of experience in law enforcement cannot recall anything similar ever happening before in either Dutchess or Ulster counties.

A number of them were asked if they could remember a hostage situation or armed standoff in a local police station or town hall – where local court sessions typically take place.

Former Dutchess County Sheriff Fred Scoralick said in his 20 years as sheriff –1979-99, as well as all his years in county law enforcement stretching to 1962 -- he could not recall a similar event taking place.

“Not in the years I was there,” said Scoralick, a Town of Beekman resident.
Ditto for Ulster County Sheriff Paul Van Blarcum, who has been in county law enforcement for 33 years. He did, however, remember reading in the newspaper in the late 1980s of the shooting in upstate New York – possibly Onondaga County – of two police officers by a prisoner.

“In court, an inmate grabbed a gun from an officer and a couple of officers got shot,” Van Blarcum said.

Capt. Bob Nuzzo, commander of New York State Police Troop K in Millbrook, said that Wednesday’s armed standoff provoked no memories of anything similar during his 22 years on the force.

“Nothing that I can recall,” he said.

Captain Paul Lecomte of the Town of Poughkeepsie police said outside of the occasional suspect resisting arrest, he couldn’t remember in his 29 years on the force of an officer having his or her weapon taken by a suspect.

Town of LaGrange Supervisor Jon Wagner, a retired detective with the Poughkeepsie town police, said he also could not recollect a situation mirroring Wednesday’s at the sheriff’s office. Wagner had a 22-year career with the town police, beginning in 1981.

“I can’t recall .... and I was a hostage negotiator,” Wagner said.


The incident unfolded inside the sheriff's office. Outside, police cars and other emergency vehicles responded, necessitating the closing of the street.

"We have a dangerous person in the building. It's a contained situation," Sheriff's Deputy TJ Hanlon said during a 2:15 p.m. press conference. The press conference was held at the intersection of High Street and North Hamilton Street, about two blocks from the jail at 150 North Hamilton St.

City of Poughkeepsie Capt. Steven Minard, acting chief because Chief Ron Knapp is on vacation, said city police were assisting the sheriff's office.

The sheriff's hostage negotiation team was deployed, but when asked if there was a hostage, Hanlon declined comment at the time.

Residents in the area were not being allowed into their homes, Hanlon said. One woman was arrested when allegedly she ignored police who tried to stop her.

Standoff drew police, crowds

City of Poughkeepsie Police Department Mobile Command Unit, emergency services from the city and town of Poughkeepsie, as well as the sheriff's emergency service unit were on the scene. Members of the FBI were observed as well.

Poughkeepsie Mayor John Tkazyik was there, as weredozens of bystanders on the road. Police tape blocked sidewalks.

"It has the potential to be a very serious situation," Tkazyik said earlier in the afternoon.

Tkazyik said there was no immediate threat to the public or the neighborhood.

Tasha Vailes 36, of the Bronx, was at the jail visiting her brother.

“They kicked everyone out of the visiting room, then they told them to get out of the building,” she said, noting she had come all the way up from New York City and only got to see her brother for 15 minutes. ..Source.. by

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