Three Hostages Are Safe, Police Say

TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) – The tense 3-day hostage standoff with an armed suspect in Trenton, N.J. has been resolved and the gunman is dead.

Authorities said at a news conference Sunday that officers stormed the house and shot the suspect, 38-year-old Gerald Tyrone Murphy.

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“Preliminary information from the investigation now being conducted indicates that following our entry, a single shot was fired by our entry team to stop a threatening action against one of the children by Murphy. Murphy was wounded, taken into custody and transported to the Fuld Medical Center by Trenton EMS. He has since died of his injuries,” Trenton Police Col. Rick Fuentes said at a news conference.

Fuentes explained at the news conference why officers moved in when they did.

“We did have evidence that there was a deteriorating state of mind here on the part of the subject and we felt that within the next 24 hours, he was going to take some kind of an action and we needed to interrupt that,” Fuentes said.

“I would like to thank law enforcement agencies, especially the Trenton Police Department for their professional response and for working toward a peaceful resolution. I would also like to commend the City’s Health Department who partnered with the American Red Cross to provide shelter and food for displaced residents,” Trenton Mayor Tony F. Mack said in a statement Sunday morning.

KYW TV reporter Syma Chowdhry had been at the scene all weekend and reported shortly after the standoff ended.

“After 36 hours, the hostage situation is over. Shortly before 4 a.m., a gunshot was heard and someone was taken out on a stretcher and put in the ambulance, but police are not commenting on that. What they are telling us, though, is the three hostages are safe and the suspect is in custody,” Chowdhry told WCBS 880.

The incident began when police responded to the apartment on the  200 block of Grand Street in Trenton Friday night following a request to check on the welfare of those in the apartment. When officers arrived, they found the bodies of a woman and one of her children, aged 13. The woman has since been identified by police as Carmelita Stevens.

The suspect then brandished a gun and said he had explosives and as police pulled back, he barricaded himself inside holding three of the woman’s other children hostage.

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Stevens’ body was in an advanced state of decomposition, and police said she appeared to have died two weeks ago, officials announced Sunday morning.

“Stevens’ two daughters had not been to school in 12 days,” Trenton Police Director Ralph Rivera said.

Three of her children – an 18-year-old woman, a 16-year-old girl and a 4-year-old boy – were rescued and taken to a medical center for evaluation and treatment. A 19-year-old who had been hiding in the basement was also rescued.

Police announced Sunday that Murphy had an outstanding in warrant in Pennsylvania for failing to register as a sex offender.

Police had been negotiating with Murphy by cell phone since Friday night.

Police had a robot on scene ready to enter the apartment Saturday, and state police said an arson bomb unit was also on the scene.

Authorities gave the suspect a meal upon his request.

Nearby homes were evacuated and Grand Street was blocked off.

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