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Wednesday, May 10, 2006
by Steve Earley, Staff Writer
Apparent attempted suicide stand off ends peacefully, law enforcement officials say
A suicidal gunman barricaded himself and his 83-year-old aunt inside their Laurel home for two and a half hours Tuesday, threatening to shoot anyone who approached before peacefully surrendering to authorities, police said.
The gunman, who police said was drunk and had a history of substance abuse problems, never threatened the aunt and did not cause injury to himself, police said. Police said Ronald Wroblewski, 62, gave himself up unarmed around 1:20 p.m. following on-again, off-again talks with negotiators.
Wroblewski, identified as a former Prince George’s County Police officer, is taking medication for depression, Laurel Police Chief David Crawford said. Police will decide whether to file charges against Wroblewski pending the results of a medical evaluation, police spokesman James Collins said. Police said they were called to the 1100 block of Beall Place about 10:50 a.m. after Wroblewski called a doctor’s office threatening to kill himself with a handgun.
Neighboring residents were immediately evacuated and streets closed as negotiators established telephone communication with the suspect. Laurel Elementary and High schools were put on lockdown for the duration of the standoff.
Wroblewski never threatened to harm his aunt, identified by police as Diane Venator, but she initially refused to leave the residence, Collins said.
‘‘It wasn’t that she was being held against her will, it was that she was concerned about her nephew,” said Collins, adding: ‘‘I don’t think she was ever in danger.”
Police said Venator also has a bad hip. A response team carried her from the scene about 90 minutes into the standoff.
Wroblewski, speaking with police by telephone, told them he was sitting on a bed with a handgun next to him, according to Collins. The suspect continually halted negotiations, walking away from the telephone receiver multiple times, the spokesman said.
Ultimately, Wroblewski agreed to exit the home and talk to face-to-face with police, at which point he was apprehended by a six-man tactical force, Collins said. The suspect was holding only a cell phone when he was taken into custody on the home’s front steps.
Crawford, named Laurel’s permanent police chief in late March, praised the work of the approximately 35 personnel who responded.
‘‘The deployment of the emergency response team and the officers, it went like clockwork,” Crawford said. ‘‘It could not have gone any better.”
Crawford said police, some of whom were armed with rubber bullets, were prepared to respond with less-than-lethal force.
‘‘My big fear was this was going to evolve into a suicide-by-cop,” Crawford said. ‘‘In that situation, nobody wins.”
A 357-magnum handgun and two additional weapons were recovered from Wroblewski’s home, which he shared with his aunt, according to police. Descriptions of the second two weapons were not immediately available.
Wroblewski left the county police force in 1977, Crawford said. Police were unsure if the man is currently employed.