Lengthy SWAT Standoff Over Foreclosure Ends in Suicide
Published on 2007-10-27 00:00:00
James Hahn, a chemist, had told police he would not be taken from the home alive, said Capt. Bruce Williams, an HPD spokesman.
" 'You know what I do for a living and you know what I am capable of,' " said Williams, recalling one of the conversations police had with the man on Wednesday.
The standoff began at 1:10 p.m. Wednesday when police said Hahn pulled a gun on Precinct 4 constable deputies who had attempted to serve him with a warrant for eviction at the home in the 21000 block of Covington Bridge in Spring, authorities said.
It would appear that Hahn had prepared for the standoff. He had nailed plywood over windows and doors and stuffed insulation into cracks. A cache of weapons and explosive devices were found in the home, along with a gas mask, chemical suit similar to those worn by Haz-Mat crew members.
Williams said it explained why Hahn didn't vacate the house after police shot tear gas into the residence on three separate occasions in the hopes of bringing the standoff to an end.
Williams said Hahn was recently divorced, depressed and struggled with financial problems and drug addiction.
"We believe this particular individual was not going to go peacefully," Williams said.
Throughout the day police said Hahn had set small fires in several places in the home. HPD SWAT officers arrived at the home about 3 p.m. Residents living in nearby were asked to leave their homes until Hahn was taken into custody.
About 11:20 p.m. Wednesday, police repeatedly spoke to the man using a loudspeaker they hooked up in his backyard in the Covington Bridge subdivision..
"This is the Houston Police Department. Come out your front door with nothing in your hands and listen for instructions," an officer said. "You need to come out now."
It was just one move in a series of efforts throughout the evening Wednesday to remove the man without deadly force, police said.
Sounds of tear gas being deployed into the barricaded man's home drew Tammy Sample out of her home late Wednesday.
Sample, 51, came out to investigate with her Yorkie, Bruiser, in her arms. She said she wouldn't be able to sleep until the standoff was resolved.
"It sounds horrible, but it was kind of exciting at the beginning," Sample said. "... Now it's just scary because you never think it's going to happen where you live."
Sample opened her home Wednesday to another neighbor who was denied access to her house as a result of the standoff.
Shirley Bell, 43, said she returned to the neighborhood about 3 p.m. to find police blocking her way home.
Bell said she never thought the siege would last so long.
"It seems like for whatever comes, he's ready," she said of the man.
Sample agreed. Prior to the standoff, it would appear the man was preparing for something, police said.
"He had installed surveillance cameras and boarded up his windows," Sample said. "He was ready all right."
Shortly after midnight Wednesday, residents could hear police pleading with the man again to surrender.
"We're not leaving today. And this is only going to get worse for you come out now," a SWAT negotiator said.
An hour and a half later, Hahn shot himself as officers closed in on his home.
Residents noted there had been a number of foreclosures in the neighborhood lately.
But none imagined that Hahn would take his life rather than leave a home that no longer belonged to him.
Chronicle reporter Dale Lezon contributed to this report.