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Hostage crisis ends peacefully

POWELLSVILLE – A Powellsville woman owes her life to a highly-skilled SBI negotiator.

For the second time in a little more than one year, Sylvia Dale Wilson, 43 of 143 Sally Freeman Road, was taken hostage by a male acquaintance, threatened with her life and then rescued by law enforcement officers.

The latest incident occurred early Sunday morning at Wilson’s residence. There, Tony Kennedy Watford, 42 of Colerain, broke into Wilson’s home and held her hostage until an SBI agent with that agency’s Special Response Team was able to bring a peaceful end to an extremely volatile situation around 10 a.m. Sunday.

According to Bertie County Sheriff Greg Atkins, Watford is currently being held under a $500,000 cash bond at the Bertie-Martin Regional Jail. He is charged with 1st degree kidnapping, two counts of assault with a deadly weapon, assault on a female, 1st degree burglary, communicating threats and injury to personal property. The latter charge stemmed from Watford allegedly attempting to kick out the window of a deputy sheriff’s car following his arrest.

“Our hat is off to the SBI’s Special Response Team, especially the negotiator who professionally handled this potentially deadly situation and was able to bring it to an end without further incident,” Sheriff Atkins said.

Atkins said Watford was released from prison on July 19 following an active sentence stemming from his March 22, 2005 arrest for taking Wilson hostage and threatening her life. Eleven days following his release, Watford returned to the scene of the crime.

Reports show that the Bertie Sheriff’s Office received a call shortly past midnight on Sunday regarding Watford’s forcible entrance into Wilson’s home. Atkins said at the time of entry, Wilson was at her residence along with her children, an adult female and her children.

“Apparently, when Mr. Watford forced his way inside the residence, the other woman was able to lead herself and all the children to safety,” Atkins said.

Over the next nine hours, Watford kept law enforcement officers at bay by holding Wilson hostage with a knife and a portable propane gas tank, one which Sheriff Atkins said Watford threatened to ignite.

“Fortunately, the SBI negotiator was able to talk Mr. Watford out of the house and surrender,” Atkins said.

As was the case in March of last year, law enforcement officers sealed off both ends of Sally Freeman Road on Sunday morning and set up a perimeter around the Wilson residence.

Watford has a long history of run-ins with the law. In an unrelated case, he is currently under a domestic violence order until Aug. 7. He also has prior arrests for assault with a deadly weapon, simple assault, resisting arrest, DWI and driving while license were revoked.