Local News

Suspect Remains Hospitalized After 11-Hour Standoff In Henderson

Posted April 25, 2003

— A man who held Henderson officials police at bay for nearly 12 hours Thursday remains hospitalized after an exchange of gunfire with authorities early Friday morning.

William Keith Tillotson, 45, was taken into custody around 12:30 a.m. Friday. Police said he came out of the house at 136 Apple Street where he was holed up to shoot at lights the SBI shined into the home.

Police said the situation began just after 1 p.m. Thursday when they received a call about a man making threats and firing a gun. Police said when they arrived at the scene, they encountered a man armed with a shotgun who retreated into the house, refusing to relinquish the gun.

Police said Tillotson fired at least two shots at them from inside his home.

"There was a lot of commotion all of a sudden and we came out and we heard a gunshot," neighbor Bill Fleming said.

Tillotson spent the next 11½ hours inside his home, firing the gun occasionally at random intervals, according to Henderson police chief Glen Allen.

"He's been very irrational and incoherent in his thoughts throughout the day," Allen said.

Police said they do not know what led Tillotson to shoot at them and hold them at bay.

"I know the individual," Fleming said. "In fact, he has been by my business. We know him, but I don't know what his problem is, and why he is doing what he is doing."

Police and Vance County deputies evacuated several homes in the area and cordoned off the area with police tape. Police were able to establish communication with the Tillotson late in the day. Neither police nor relatives were able to persuade Tillotson to leave the house.

During the night police fired as many as 30 shells of pepper spray and tear gas into the home, but Tillotson remained inside.

Tillotson finally ran outside, first shooting at lights the SBI shined on his house, then at police.

"He fired at officers, officers did return fire, and he was found to have had an injury to an arm," Allen said.

Tillotson was taken to Maria Parham Hospital. The injury to his arm is not believed to be life-threatening. No one else was injured.

Allen said Tillotson appeared to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. He faces criminal charges including shooting at police officers.

Authorities said Tillotson pleaded guilty to assault charges dating back to 1982.

A tactical team was requested from the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI). Approximately 20 members of the SBI's Emergency Response Team, negotiators and other support personnel and equipment responded to the scene. Support also provided by the state Highway Patrol, the Vance County Rescue Squad, and the Henderson-Vance Fire and EMS Service.


Kamal Wallace


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