The Patton Township Police Department said the Vairo Village area is now safe after police spent several hours trying to deal with a man who was "possibly armed" -- but some residents said they were concerned about a lack of information provided about the incident as it unfolded yesterday.
Patton Township Chief of Police John Petrick said police received a call at about 9 a.m. Thursday from family members of a resident of Vairo Village Apartments, 10 Vairo Blvd., who were concerned for the man's well-being. Petrick said a woman was also in the apartment with the man, both in their 20s.
Petrick said police were told threats had been made, though he did not specify the nature of the threats or to whom they were directed.
The man remained in his apartment until about 3:15 p.m., Petrick said, at which point police were able to communicate with him, and he came out of the apartment peacefully through an open window. As of about 5 p.m. Thursday, he was being evaluated at Mount Nittany Medical Center. Petrick declined to specify the nature of that evaluation.
Petrick said the woman "seemed to be good" when found in the apartment after the man exited. He declined to comment further on her condition, citing an ongoing investigation.
He also declined to specify whether charges are pending in relation to the incident and whether weapons or other items were taken from the man's apartment.
Police took their time handling the incident with care, Petrick said, given "great concern for both public safety and officer safety." In responding to it Thursday, Petrick noted "a great deal of intelligence information was gathered," Centre County Tactical EMS was involved and surrounding police departments were called in as backup, if needed.
About 20 residents were evacuated temporarily from the area as police dealt with the situation, while other residents were told to stay inside and police limited access to Vairo Boulevard for several hours. Because some were stranded at bus stops on the outskirts of the blocked-off roadway, Centre Area Transportation Authority buses were summoned to provide a place to sit and wait until traffic reopened, CATA Operations Manager Dave Effinger said.
The police presence created confusion for some area residents like Lindsay Blystone and Amanda Perkins, who said they were frustrated with the lack of information they received about the situation as it developed.
Perkins (senior-psychology) said her mother tried calling someone with to inquire about the situation earlier in the day and was initially told a gas leak was the issue. Petrick, separately, said there was no gas leak.
The students said they were skeptical after seeing officers patrolling the area with guns.
"The people here aren't stupid," Blystone (senior-crime, law and justice) said. "You don't cure gas leaks with shields and rifles."
Meanwhile, Blystone said the two heard rumors that the incident involved everything from a hostage situation to someone who was planning a "killing spree." Perkins said she was, at one point, shaking and holding back tears as she struggled to figure out what was going on.
A representative at the office for Vairo Village, owned by Berger Rental Communities, declined to comment beyond noting that all residents were sent an update after the area was cleared.
An update sent at 4:14 p.m. Thursday from Berger Rental Communities Resident Relations Coordinator Miranda Flango told residents their "patience and cooperation" was appreciated. It also said the situation was resolved and "no ongoing precautionary measures will be necessary" but did not mention any details about the incident.
Petrick said police worked closely with the realty company to immediately alert residents in adjacent apartments. Otherwise, because the man was in a contained area, Petrick said police opted to limit additional alerts "rather than create a panic."
Had the man been on foot and not in a secure location, Petrick said, the approach would have been different.
"In our opinion, we had the area very secure... and those people who needed to be notified were in fact notified," Petrick said.