Woman in standoff upset over police actions — (Herald-Mail)

SSRI Ed note: Woman who claims no mental health problems but threatens suicide, on Paxil, possible withdrawal, gets into row, police are called, 6-hour stand-off.

Original article no longer available


by DON AINES, chambersburg@herald-mail.com

July 31, 2005

FAYETTEVILLE, Pa. – A woman taken into custody Monday afternoon after a six-hour standoff with Pennsylvania State Police says police overreacted and damaged her house when she refused to come out.

A police spokesman said Wednesday that officers responded appropriately to protect neighbors and themselves.

“I feel that yesterday was uncalled for,” Nancy Overcash said Tuesday. “They lied to me and said they wouldn’t hurt me if I came out.”

Overcash said when she came out, “I had 10 guns pointed in my face” and one trooper twisted her arm.

“Anytime we have an unusual circumstance like this where a person has access to weapons and has threatened to use them,” officers can call for a Special Emergency Response Team, Trooper Angel Garcia, a community service officer, said Wednesday.

Monday morning, two troopers went to Overcash’s East Main Street home after receiving a call from a relative about a disturbance. Garcia said they got the other people out and called for the SERT team. About 40 SERT members and troopers surrounded the house, he said.

“When all this happened … it was all over an argument about no one helping around the house,” Overcash, 43, said Tuesday.

“She told her husband she was going to commit suicide and she got a gun and tried to load it,” Garcia said. “This was information given to us by her husband.”

“I would never do it for religious reasons and I have too much to live for,” Overcash said.

There were no loaded weapons in the house, she said.

Dirk Overcash also told police there were 40 firearms in the house, Garcia said.

Garcia said police tried to contact Overcash by telephone and with a megaphone, but “she continued to ignore our attempts to contact her.”

Overcash said she was initially unaware police were outside and wanted her to come out. During that time, Overcash said she was in her bedroom watching television, reading a book and taking a nap.

“I ignored that,” she said of the megaphone. Overcash said she also “pushed the telephone out in the hall so I couldn’t hear it.”

Asked why she did not come out once she was aware police wanted her to do so, Overcash said, “I figured if I don’t go out, they’ll probably get tired and go away.”

To get a response from Overcash, Garcia said “rubber rounds” were fired into the house.

Overcash said about a dozen hit the house, damaging 24 windows and storm windows. One of them hit her and knocked a sconce off the wall, she said.

Overcash said she yelled out a window after police started firing. At one point, she said she saw an officer behind a telephone pole aiming a weapon at her.

“She finally started answering the phone after the rounds” were fired, Garcia said. When she came out, Overcash was taken to Chambersburg Hospital for a mental evaluation, he said.

Overcash, who said she takes the prescription drug Paxil, took issue with a statement made by one of her daughters that she had mental-health problems and had not been taking her medication. She said a lot of people are prescribed the drug to help them “deal with life’s hardships,” but was concerned the incident could jeopardize her job.

“I am not diagnosed with mental-health issues and that needs to be cleared up,” she said.

Overcash said she spent the night at the hospital for evaluation and was released.

Overcash said she met with state police Wednesday “to let them know my feelings and explain my side of the story.” She said she has not decided if she will file a formal complaint against police, who told her they will not pay for the damage to the house.