Original article no longer available
By RICHARD ILGENFRITZ
PENN VALLEY- After threatening to “blow Jim’s head off, if I have to,” a former mental patient held a man hostage in Penn Valley for several hours Monday night before releasing the man and surrendering to police.
According to police, on Monday afternoon, a recently fired employee at the Oak Hill Condominium complex in Penn Valley entered the office of the property manager, Jim Giblin, and held him at gunpoint for more than four hours. Two women were also held during the initial stages of the incident.
Police later identified the man as Dennis Schuler, 46, with a last known address of the 1600 block of Oakhill Drive, Penn Valley.
Lower Merion Police Supt. Joseph Daly said Schuler entered the property manager’s office at about 3:30 p.m. Monday carrying a shotgun. Additional police reports say Schuler had a total of 14 12-gauge shotgun shells in his possession when he surrendered to police.
“There were three people in the room, two females and a male,” Daly said, describing the initial stages of the situation.
According to the affidavit, Schuler told one of the women to put a note on the door saying the office is closed. He was then seen loading the shotgun.
A short time later, one of the women escaped from the building.
Police said Schuler later told the remaining hostages he wanted to “clear his reputation before he leaves this planet.”
As police arrived at the scene, Giblin asked Schuler to release the remaining female hostage, which he agreed to do.
According to police, one of the first officers on the scene knew Schuler and had his cell phone number programmed into his phone. The officer was able to contact Schuler and keep him on the phone. A short time later, police negotiators arrived on the scene and continued talking with Schuler.
Dozens of police officers blocked access to the area surrounding the manager’s office, keeping residents inside or outside of their units.
Schuler released Giblin at about 7:30 p.m. and surrendered to police about 8:15 p.m.
According to a criminal complaint filed by Lower Merion police, Schuler will be charged with several crimes, including possession of instruments of crime, simple assault, recklessly endangering another person, terroristic threats, kidnapping, false imprisonment, robbery, disorderly conduct, criminal mischief, possession of a firearm after being involuntary committed to a mental facility and harassment.
During a video arraignment on Tuesday afternoon, Schuler said he has been taking medication for depression.
District Magisterial Judge Henry Schireson then set Schuler’s bail at $50,000 cash.
Schireson also ordered Schuler to undergo a mental evaluation while he was in the Montgomery County Correctional Facility.
Residents said Schuler had been the assistant maintenance manager for a little more than a year before he was fired from the position in August and told to vacate the condo where he had been living.
Those residents who knew Schuler described him as a decent and hardworking man who often helped residents with minor and major repairs around their condos, often making special trips to hardware stores to buy items needed for the repairs.
Residents say they never would have expected Schuler to resort to such drastic measures.
“He was always a good person and he took his firing hard,” said former Oak Hill Board member Phillip Rosenthal.
Schuler is next scheduled to appear in court for a preliminary hearing Oct 17 at 1 p.m.