Police: Lincoln man arrested in SWAT standoff had 22 rifles seized weeks ago
A Lincoln man who spurred a SWAT situation that lasted for several hours Wednesday morning is accused of threatening to kill his girlfriend, prompting the woman to call police and flee with her young child, police said.
Edward Thomas Jr., 36, was arrested and charged with making terroristic threats after police found him hiding out at his mother’s house in McKeesport. That’s about 20 minutes from his Lincoln home on McClean Drive that was the target of the SWAT standoff from about 1 a.m. until after sunrise, Lincoln police Chief Richard Bosco said.
Inside his Lincoln residence, police found 3,000 to 6,000 rounds of ammunition and several bayonets.
Officers heeded extra caution because Thomas was known to have a history of domestic abuse and to own firearms.
Just weeks ago, Lincoln police had arrived at the same house to seize nearly two dozen long arms legally owned by Thomas because of a protection from abuse order filed by his ex-wife, who is a different woman, according to Bosco.
A judge had granted the PFA against Thomas to his ex “because of threatening conversations that he had had with her,” Bosco said.
“We seized 22 rifles and shotguns two weeks ago, thank God,” Bosco said by phone Wednesday afternoon as he recalled the long day he and his team had surrounding Thomas’ home in an attempt to find him.
About 1 a.m. Wednesday, the girlfriend called 911 to report that she and her child, who is younger than 4, had just left the house where she lives with Thomas after getting into an argument that escalated to the death threat, Bosco said.
“In the heat of the moment, he threatened to take her life,” Bosco said. “She fled with her child.”
In the background of the 911 call, Thomas, whom the girlfriend said had been drinking heavily, could be heard yelling, “Why did you have to call the police? Why did you have to call the police?”
Lincoln police arrived at the house first and called in backup units from Elizabeth and Liberty boroughs as well as Allegheny County’s SWAT team.
“We set up a perimeter around the home, then tried to make contact with him several times,” Bosco said.
Over several hours, officials tried to contact and coax out Thomas by phoning him repeatedly and calling out to him via a loudspeaker.
They brought over his mother and his sister to plead with him.
They threw more than a dozen flash grenades into the house.
When nothing worked, they sent in a robotics unit to examine the clear officials to enter the residence safely, Bosco said.
Once inside, at about 7:30 a.m., officers confirmed that Thomas was not there.
Turned out, between the eight to 10 minutes when the girlfriend placed the 911 call and when the first police arrived, Thomas had left on foot, Bosco said.
His mother mentioned to police that her house was a 20-minute walk through the woods.
Police found Thomas at his mother’s home and took him into custody without further incident.
Several roads were blocked during the incident and police requested that neighbors stay inside their homes.
“It’s a very close-knit, small community, and they all did their respectful diligence and stayed place in their homes,” Bosco said. “They were told to shelter in place, and they did, no pushback. Of course they were alarmed, there were flash bang grenades going off and people were speaking on a bullhorn and at 1 and 2 o’clock in the morning, so the community did not have a peaceful night. But they were all very cooperative, and we were very thankful for that.”
Thomas, who could not be reached for comment, is scheduled to appear before District Judge Thomas Miller Jr. for a preliminary hearing on June 3.
Court documents do not indicate an attorney who will be representing him.
Neighbors tell me they are being asked to stay in their homes.
Police say the area is safe with NO hostages.
This is still a very active SWAT situation. I’m live all morning @WPXI
— Liz Kilmer (@LizKilmerWPXI) May 22, 2019