Local News

Seven Hour Standoff Ends Peacefully in Durham

Posted January 11, 1999

— A seven hour standoff between Durham police and an armed gunman ended peacefully around 9 p.m. Tuesday.

A bail bondsman barged into the apartment of Joseph Christmas' girlfriend around 2 p.m. in search of the 19-year-old convicted felon.

The bail bondsman supposedly received word that Christmas was planning to skip town, and went to the Cheek Road apartment to look for him. After he entered the apartment, Christmas pulled a gun and the standoff began.

"Joseph Christmas was taken into custody a short time ago without incident," Durham Cpt. Dwight Pettiford. "He was found in the attic space of the apartment, and we were able to apprehend him without any major problems other than taking extra care so that we would not injure him or ourselves."

Christmas is now wanted on federal drug and weapons charges.

Christmas' friends and family were very upset and clashed with police officers during the incident. They say he was just a scared kid, while police called him an armed and dangerous criminal.

"They did it so quick," one family member said. "They just rushed in with these 12-gauges and all these cops, and they just scared him half to death."

Durham police tried to contact Christmas several times. First, they called the apartment they believed he was in, but he would not answer the phone. They also sent in a negotiator who said he could hear Christmas moving around upstairs, but he would not respond. The police finally sent in a SWAT team who resolved the incident.

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