Arkport standoff ends peacefully

Staff reports

A?three-hour standoff ended without violence in Arkport Monday afternoon.

Steuben County Sheriff’s deputies responded to 92 West Ave. around 1 p.m. Monday on a request from the Steuben County Department of Mental Health, citing that a man there was believed to be a danger to himself or others. Upon arrival at the residence, deputies attempted to enter the home when they got no response after knocking at the door. At that time, the resident, Raymond T. O’Keefe, 73, became enraged, shouting verbal threats toward deputies. He then allegedly appeared at the front door and swung a butcher knife and meat cleaver at deputies, then retreated back inside the residence.

“When we arrived we weren’t sure if he had done harm to himself or if he needed immediate help,” Undersheriff Dave Cole said this morning. “There was no acknowledgement of our presence, so I order entry to determine his welfare.

“Upon us trying to enter, he attempted to attack three of our entry people,” he added.

After O’Keefe retreated inside the residence, deputies and state police officers at the scene secured the perimeter, Cole said. Then Cpl. Bill Norton acted as chief negotiator with O’Keefe, Cole said, staying engaged with him for approximately three hours.

“Bill Norton did an outstanding job with negotiations,” Cole said. “After about two-and-a-half to three hours, we determined communications were breaking down and it didn’t look like it would be resolved.

“We had an opportunity, where we’d convinced him to lay down the weapons for a short period,” he added. “Then the state police helped us take him into custody.”

O’Keefe was apprehended shortly after 4:30 p.m., when he approached a window and was held in place while other deputies and troopers entered the residence and secured him. He was taken into custody on the original mental health request from the Department of Mental Health, and was transported by Hornell ambulance personnel to St. James Mercy Hospital in Hornell.

Cole said O’Keefe is still in the hospital today. The sheriffs’s department is working with the Steuben County District Attorney’s office to determine whether charges will be filed.

“I have spoken with the DA, and there is a probability of criminal charges stemming from menacing police at the scene,” Cole said, “but we need to see what the outcome is after St. James.”

The road was not closed off during the standoff, and Cole said it was determined a closure was not needed after the situation was ascertained. He said the perimeter of the residence had been secured, and it was determined there were no firearms in the house.

“We tried to bring it down to a calmer level by talking to the person,” Cole said. “Our last approach in any of these kinds of things is the use of force; that’s a last resort.

“When a weapon is involved, there is great risk and action needs to be taken,” he added, “but we try to get it to a point where, hopefully, we can resolve it without using force.”

The Evening Tribune