REPORTER: News Staff, Fri. 18th.
On Monday Police formally arrested and charged Richard O’Neal, 26, Wayne Welch, 25 and Steven Bernard, 25, Laborer, with Aggravated Burglary, Wounding, Harm, Aggravated Assault, Kept a Forearm without a Gun License, and Kept Ammunition without a License.
The drama started to unfold around 9:00 p.m. on January 13th as businessman Rong Bin Liang, 58, and his wife were closing up their establishment for the night. The couple’s accounts are that three men entered their enclosed yard by jumping over a concrete fence. The men pushed the couple inside the building, beat them and restrained them on the lower flat of the building using duct tape.
Police say that they got a call from an unidentified person reporting that a burglary was in process at the store. Authorities quickly responded to the scene, secured the building and cordoned off the area where they learned that the suspects were still inside the building and were likely holding the proprietor as a hostage.
Details released to the media are that about ten minutes after Police arrived on the scene, the Asian businessman and his wife managed to escape from inside the building with duct tape over their mouths and injuries to their faces and bodies. The couple was pulled to safety where they informed Police that their 17-year-old daughter was still inside her room on the second floor of the building where the men currently were.
By that time Commissioner of Police Chester Williams was already on the scene and gave a directive to breach the doors so that officers could make their way inside.
“While we were standing on the street in front of the building I saw a male person go on the veranda of the building and point a firearm in our direction. He fired two shots at the Police. We ran and took cover behind a nearby house as well as our vehicles that were parked in the area,” Williams told the media.
According to Williams that standoff between the men and police lasted about two hours – “During that time I found out who the burglars were and I made a call to one of them and that call led to me having a back and forth with the individual trying to get him to surrender. The thing is that I had to be very cautious as the daughter was still inside the building and we did not want to do anything that would cause them to injure or kill the little girl. The negotiations lasted about 20 minutes at which time they all agreed that they were going to surrender so I directed them to go on the veranda near the burglar bar where we can see their hands. They did that and after that was done we breached the building. We went in and the suspects were caught.”
On the upper flat of the veranda, Police recovered a bag containing about $670. On the night of the ordeal following their detention, the trio of men was taken to the back of the yard as Police searched for the firearm. Because of the poor lighting condition, the search was unsuccessful, but on the following day when Police went to the area, they uncovered a 9mm Glock pistol from inside the backyard.
Williams commended his officers following the situation, saying “I want to thank my officers who were out there with me, who were extremely brave to approach the situation putting their lives at risk in a view to try and save the child and to apprehend the culprits.