Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Warminster, PA: Woman, 90, shot dead during seven-hour standoff between police and her upstairs neighbor

A 90-year-old Pennsylvania woman was shot dead overnight after getting caught in a crossfire between police and an armed suspect who barricaded himself inside his apartment. 

Andrew Cairns, 49, surrendered himself early Wednesday morning following a seven-hour standoff in Warminster Township during which he had fired numerous rounds from a high-caliber handgun, according to police.

The drama unfolded at around 4pm Tuesday when police say Cairns was involved in a domestic disturbance with his common-law wife in the 2000 building at the Jefferson on the Creek apartment complex at 675 East Street Road.

A domestic violence case worker was initially dispatched to the scene, but nearly four hours later, a second call came from the residence about shots being fired, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. 

Detectives who were in the area on an unrelated matter rushed to the building and were met with a barrage of bullets fired at by the suspect, who barricaded himself inside his unit. 

Officials said Cairns' wife was able to escape the apartment unharmed at around 8.30pm.  

All the surrounding roads were closed and the apartment building was evacuated, with about 40-60 residents being sent to the William Tenant High School gymnasium where the Red Cross set up a temporary shelter. The Davisville Shopping Center was also evacuated. 

The responding cops took cover in a nearby ravine and returned fire. Warminster Police Chief Mike Murphy said during a press conference Wednesday morning that some of the rounds whizzed by officers' heads, nearly striking them, reported. 

In the protracted gun battle that followed, Cairns’ 90-year-old downstairs neighbor was struck by a bullet and died at the scene from her injuries. It remains unknown who shot the victim.

Her body was discovered inside the unit at around 10.30pm. The woman's relatives have since been notified of her death, but her name is being withheld pending a positive identification by the coroner. 

Cairns remained holed up inside his apartment for hours until a police negotiator finally managed to talk him into surrendering, reported. 

At around 2.30am, he finally turned himself in to police and was charged with aggravated assault. It is expected that the 49-year-old will face additional counts. 
Murphy said police have responded to Cairns' apartment in the past for domestic disputes, but none of them were violent.

This is not Cairns' first serious run-in with the law. In 2007, he was charged with making terrorist threats, assault and reckless endangerment, but the charges were dropped for lack of prosecution.

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