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Suspect in Monessen standoff undergoing mental evaluation

| Wednesday, Dec. 31, 2008

MONESSEN - A city man who fired a high-powered rifle at police during a long stand-off was arraigned Tuesday on numerous charges.

Daniel Cortese, 33, of 630 Division St., was arraigned before Magisterial District Judge Joseph Dalfonso on charges of aggravated assault, three counts of recklessly endangering another person, terroristic threats and risking a catastrophe.

Dalfonso set his bail at $100,000 straight cash, but police recommended Cortese undergo a mental health evaluation.

Police were called to Cortese's home at 3:07 a.m. after his father, Phillip Cortese, called Westmoreland County 911 to report that his son was drunk and distraught over an earlier incident.

Phillip Cortese told police he heard a gunshot from his son's apartment, which is located across from the main house on the property. Daniel Cortese's parents live in the main house.

His father said he was afraid to go to his son's apartment.

When police arrived, they saw Daniel Cortese sitting at the top of the stairs of the garage with a rifle resting between his legs. Cortese told police if they came into his apartment, he would fire another shot.

That's when police called for back up.

Six neighboring police departments and the State Police Special Emergency Response Team were called to assist.

Cortese allegedly fired another shot toward police officers as they surrounded the gated property.

Cortese surrendered peacefully and was taken to the city lock-up around 7:30 a.m.

A preliminary hearing is set for 10:30 a.m. Jan. 9 before Dalfonso.

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