Halloween got off to a genuinely scary start on Monday when police closed off Frankford Avenue at Allegheny Avenue due to reports of a man armed with a scoped rifle.
After an hours-long standoff — and after many local children were well into their evening of trick or treating — police discovered the man was armed with nothing more than a BB gun.
No shots were fired and no one was injured in a strange case that tied up traffic in Port Richmond and Kensington for hours as police surrounded a home along the 3200 block of Frankford Avenue while a man barricaded himself inside.
Police on scene said the incident started at around 3:50 p.m. when someone in the COMHAR Mental Health building, located just across the street from these homes, reported seeing a man in a window of the home pointing a rifle out at the street.
Capt. Tom Davidson of 24th Police District said that the man was also spotted on the roof of the row home brandishing the rifle.
When police arrived the man barricaded himself in the home. As of Tuesday, Nov. 1, the man had not yet been named or charged with any crime but was in police custody for questioning.
Another man in the home was also taken into police custody, but at the time, police weren’t sure of his involvement.
“I’m just the maintenance guy!” the second man was heard to yell as he was taken away in hand cuffs.
While the situation turned out to be harmless, for some time, residents were shocked and confused about what was happening on the street.
One woman, who was out trick or treating with her children, said police told her to stay inside a nearby store and not to leave until they gave an all-clear.
But, she snuck out of the store and walked around the neighborhood with her children in defiance.
“They wanted us to stay in the store, but we snuck out,” said the woman who asked not to be identified. “I want to take my kids out for trick and treat.”
“This is just crazy,” said Luis Rosado, 21, who lives nearby on Tulip Street.
Rosado said he was going to stay home this Halloween, but when he saw all the police activity, he was curious and wanted to see what was going on.
“I’m scared because, at the moment, we don’t know what he’s doing inside,” said Rosado, who hung around to watch much of the standoff unfold. “I’m just glad no one got hurt so far. Hopefully, we can all get home safe and celebrate Halloween the right way.”
As the sun set, residents along Frankford Avenue hung out of their windows to watch the activity.
During the stand off, police had passed a phone into the building to try and talk to the man.
At about 6:30 p.m., police SWAT teams raided the building and apprehended the man.
As they packed up their gear, SWAT team members could be seen laughing about the situation.
“You can all go home, it was just a BB gun,” laughed one officer as he walked passed a small gathering of reporters.
Reporter Hayden Mitman can be reached at 215-354-3124 or firstname.lastname@example.org