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Insurance paying for repairs to North Union house after standoff

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Friday, Oct. 4, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Homeowners insurance will cover damages to a Fayette County house involved in a police standoff, according to the district attorney.

DA Jack Heneks said the elderly homeowner, Norma Sherlock, is staying in a motel paid for by the insurance company until repairs are made.

Sherlock's home on Center Avenue in North Union sustained broken windows and other damage when police converged on it to try to coax out an armed gunman one week ago.

The man, Donald Brown, 53, of Buckhannon, W.Va., was found dead hours later inside the home of a self-inflicted gunshot in the head, according to the Fayette County Coroner's Office.

Sherlock, through neighbor Ed Gilbert, declined to comment.

Gilbert said the community took up a collection to help Sherlock with some immediate needs, but she has asked them not to solicit any more donations.

Heneks said an area organization that does not want to be identified has offered to help Sherlock.

Sherlock was not home when Brown and Jessica Lynn Phillips, 28, of Buckhannon, entered the house after leading police on a high-speed chase that started in Dunbar Township. The two fled a secluded area along the Youghiogheny River when a ranger from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources found the pair with a suspected mobile methamphetamine lab, according to a criminal complaint.

The pair crashed a pickup truck into a house on North Gallatin Avenue and ran to Sherlock's nearby home.

Phillips surrendered shortly after the crash, but police spent hours trying to convince Brown to exit the house and surrender.

During the standoff, they broke windows and a door and lobbed tear gas into the one-story home before they forced open the front door about 9 p.m.

Phillips is in the Fayette County Prison in lieu of $1 million bail on charges that include attempted homicide and aggravated assault. Police said the pair fired at a trooper following them during the vehicle chase.

Phillips faces a preliminary hearing at 10:30 a.m. Nov. 20 before North Union District Judge Wendy Dennis.

Liz Zemba is a reporter for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-601-2166 or

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