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Akron Beacon Journal (OH)

Tuesday, November 28, 2000

Author: Dennis McEaneney, Beacon Journal staff writer

An armed man who vowed that police who tried to take him would “need a coroner” was arrested after he fell asleep while on the phone with a police negotiator.

Springfield Township police said that an eight-hour standoff which began after Richard Thomas went berserk, firing off a shotgun in his house to chase off his two sons and wife, ended when a police negotiator heard snoring coming from Thomas’ phone line.

No one ended up being injured, police said, and Thomas was charged with domestic menacing. Felony charges involving illegal possession of and discharging a weapon are expected to be added.

But, police said, it could have turned out much differently.

After Thomas’ arrest, police said they found that Thomas had barricaded windows and doors inside his home with mattresses and tables.

A 12-gauge shotgun loaded with a buckshot and a loaded .22-caliber rifle with a telescopic sight were also found inside the home.

“He barricaded himself in for a confrontation, no doubt about that,” said township Police Chief Carl Blasdel.

Police said Thomas was in a fighting mood Sunday after his wife told him to ease off on the booze and drugs.

Police said two gunshots cleared Thomas’ house and a third shot, fired at police a few hours later, emphasized Thomas’s warning: “Things could get ugly.”

Thomas, 42, had prior arrests for domestic violence, information police used to decide how to deal with him, Blasdel said.

In August 1996, Thomas was convicted of domestic violence, a misdemeanor.

In July, Thomas was charged with domestic violence and felonious assault but the felony charge was dropped and Thomas was convicted of a first-degree misdemeanor.

A teen-age daughter moved out of the house over the July incident, Blasdel added.

Neither Rebecca Thomas, Richard Thomas’s wife, nor his 19-year-old son, Rick, could be reached yesterday for comment.

A neighbor who lives near the Thomases said no one was at home all day yesterday at their Linnway Drive home.

Blasdel and Capt. David Hoover gave this account of Sunday’s events:

Sometime Sunday morning, Richard and Rebecca Thomas argued over Richard’s drinking and use of Prozac and a painkiller he was prescribed after recent back surgery.

Richard Thomas remained upset after his wife left the home to go out.

Rick Thomas and a younger brother were watching football on TV when Richard Thomas told his sons to get out. They went to their rooms instead.

A while later, the sons heard a gunshot and found that their father had a shotgun. The blast went completely through the closet and into an adjacent room.

Rick Thomas grabbed his younger brother and the two sons left the house.

When Rebecca Thomas returned home about 3 p.m., she found her husband angrier and more aggressive than he had been earlier.

Richard Thomas told his wife to get out and fired a shot into a ceiling. Rebecca Thomas left and called police.

Capt. Hoover phoned the home and Richard Thomas said, “I’m not coming out and don’t you try to come in.”

A SWAT team arrived about 3:45 p.m. and took up positions around the house. When a negotiator phoned the home, Thomas hung up several times but eventually stayed on the line.

Blasdel said Thomas initially told the negotiator, “The only way I’m coming out is on a stretcher and you (police) will need the coroner.”

Just before dark, an officer heard a shot, saw a muzzle flash and heard a bullet whiz over his head.

Thomas asked the negotiator, “Did I kill that officer I shot at?”

Police decided to wait to see what developed, Blasdel said.

About 11:30 p.m., the negotiator heard what sounded like snoring at the other end of the phone line.

Using a key provided by Rebecca Thomas, officers unlocked a door, went inside the home and took Richard Thomas into custody.

Blasdel said it appeared Thomas had been drinking and taking pills throughout the standoff.

Thomas was taken to Akron City Hospital where he is being held until the effects of alcohol and drugs have worn off, Blasdel said.

A hospital spokeswoman said Thomas is in an intensive care unit but his condition is not listed.

Memo: Dennis McEaneney can be reached at 330-996-3735 or

Record Number: 0011290163    Copyright (c) 2000 Akron Beacon Journal