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Hostage incident ends peacefully

POWELLSVILLE – Tragedy was avoided here Tuesday morning where a hostage situation was peacefully resolved near this northern Bertie County town.

Tony Kennedy Watford, 40, of 143 Sally Freeman Road, Powellsville, is currently behind bars in the Bertie-Martin Regional Jail after allegedly taking his girlfriend – 42-year-old Silvia Watson of the same address – hostage in her own home.

Watford faces nine counts of domestic violence, some stemming from an incident in February, as well as one count of second degree kidnapping. He is being detained under a $50,000 bond for the domestic violence charges. Bond for the kidnapping charge was to be set during Watford’s first court appearance, which took place yesterday (Wednesday). As of the deadline for today’s R-C News-Herald, that bond remains unknown.

According to Bertie County Sheriff Greg Atkins, Wilson had lodged a domestic violence complaint against Watford back in February. Warrants were drawn for his arrest. However, Watford was unable to be located.

&uot;He showed back up early Tuesday morning, sometimes around 4 a.m., at Miss Wilson’s home,&uot; Sheriff Atkins said, adding that all the information he had up to this point came from Wilson. &uot;At that point he told her that she could not leave and held her at gunpoint.&uot;

Meanwhile, two, school age children were also in the residence.

&uot;He allowed Miss Wilson to escort the children out the front door to a waiting school bus, but had informed her that if she attempted to escape, he would shoot her in the back,&uot; the Sheriff said.

A short time later, Watford’s sister arrived at the residence, as she does on a regular basis, in order to give Wilson a ride to her place of employment.

&uot;I do not have that information in front of me, but I’m guessing that it was the suspect’s sister that called this in after observing what was going on at the residence upon arriving to pick-up Miss Wilson,&uot; Atkins noted.

The Sheriff said the call came in at approximately 8 a.m. At that time, numerous Bertie County lawmen rushed to the scene.

&uot;We sealed both ends of the Sally Freeman Road and then set-up a perimeter around the residence,&uot; said Atkins. &uot;It all came to a peaceful ending around 9:19 a.m. when we were able to talk Mr. Watford into surrendering. He came out without any struggle.&uot;

Approximately 30 minutes prior to Watford’s surrender, Bertie County Detective Frank Timberlake was able to arrange for Wilson’s safe release.

&uot;This was a situation that had plenty of potential to turn extremely ugly,&uot; Atkins said. &uot;We were fortunate that it turned out the way it did with no one injured. That’s our goal. It was a job well done by everyone involved.&uot;

The Sheriff went on to say that he had summoned the SBI’s Special Response Team due to the hostage situation. However, the scenario quickly changed once Wilson was released.

&uot;I called the SBI off once Miss Wilson was in safe hands,&uot; he said. &uot;We went from a critical hostage situation to one where we only had a barricaded suspect. All you do then is just wait it out, whether it took an hour, a day or a week. There was no need to go charging in.&uot;

Watford’s charges include one count each of assault on a female, pointing a gun, assault on a child under the age of 12 and making a threatening phone call. He was charged with three counts of communicating threats and two counts of domestic criminal trespass as well as the kidnapping charge.