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Lower Burrell standoff ends peacefully

| Sunday, June 29, 2014, 11:24 p.m.
Eric Felack | Valley News Dispatch
A police officer looks through the scope of a sniper rifle outside of a house on Madison Drive in Lower Burrell from a backyard on adjoining Jefferson Avenue during a 3.5-hour standoff with a suspect on Sunday, June 29, 2014. The incident ended peacefully.

A Lower Burrell street was locked down for more than three hours on Sunday evening while police tried to reach a man barricaded inside his Madison Drive home.

Chief Tim Weitzel said the man's employer contacted police after the man reportedly called off work and said he planned to harm himself.

Because the man referenced having a loaded gun, police proceeded cautiously when they arrived at his brick home at 122 Madison Drive.

When attempts to contact him by phone were unsuccessful, officers with tactical gear and sniper-style weapons began to surround the house shortly after 6 p.m.

Neighbors said they heard police using a loudspeaker to repeatedly call for Robert Olinger to come outside. Weitzel declined to name the man, but county records indicate the house is owned by Olinger.

The situation was resolved peacefully when Olinger walked into his backyard about 9:30 p.m. and police took him into “protective custody.” Weitzel said he isn't certain whether Olinger was responding to police or simply planned to let his dog out.

Weitzel said Olinger was unarmed when he came outside.

No one was harmed. Weitzel said Olinger lives with his elderly mother, but she was not home at the time.

About 10 p.m. police walked the middle-aged man to an ambulance. He was not handcuffed.

Weitzel said Olinger was taken to Allegheny Valley Hospital in Harrison for a mental-health evaluation.

“He claims this was a big misunderstanding,” Weitzel said.

The chief said officers will speak to the man's employer and await a report from the hospital, but no charges were filed.

A woman who lives near Olinger said she was startled to see police with rifles in her backyard about 6:30 p.m. She said she stayed in her basement with her child to keep out of the line of possible fire.

“We're afraid to turn the lights on in the house,” said the woman, who asked not to be identified.

She said she'd seen Olinger doing yard work earlier in the day and nothing seemed amiss.

She expressed concern for her quiet neighborhood off Leechburg Road, noting a man shot his adult son during an argument in February 2013 around the corner on Jefferson Avenue.

“This was pretty scary,” she said.

Liz Hayes is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. She can be reached at lhayes@tribweb.com and 724-226-4680.

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