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Standoff ends peacefully

MURFREESBORO – Following a suspense-filled, four-hour stand-off with several law enforcement agencies, one where several residents were ordered to evacuate their homes, a Murfreesboro man was taken into custody here Wednesday night.

David Ray Kent, 46, stands charged with four felonies and a pair of misdemeanors after he, on at least five occasions, threatened law enforcement officers with a weapon.

Murfreesboro Police Chief Darrell Rowe charged Kent with three felony counts of aggravated assault on an officer as well as two misdemeanors n one count each of simple assault and resist, delay and obstruct.

The other felony charge was cruelty to animals. That stemmed from Kent allegedly shooting a dog earlier on Wednesday in Murfree Mobile Home Park.

After being taken by Hertford County EMS to Roanoke-Chowan Hospital for observation, Kent was released into the custody of the Murfreesboro Police Department. He was then transported to the Hertford County Jail and incarcerated under a $138,000 secured bond.

“This was a very unfortunate situation, but it ended the best way possible as nobody was hurt,” Rowe said.

In the face of an armed individual acting in a threatening manner, Chief Rowe offered praise for the law enforcement officers at the scene.

“The officers from each department who were involved in this call showed great professionalism,” Rowe said. “It’s in moments like these where all the hours of training pay off. I’m very proud of the calm demeanor and the professionalism demonstrated by the officers, even when confronted several times by an individual armed with a deadly weapon.”

Shots Fired

The event began with a 6:24 p.m. call to the Murfreesboro Police Department concerning shots being fired in Murfree Mobile Home Park, located in the 800 block of West Main Street nears Lowes Foods.

MPD Officer Chris Firkel and Sgt. Jamie Dilday were the first to arrive at the scene. After speaking with several residents of the park, the lawmen learned that the shots came from Kent’s residence.

Confrontation

According to Rowe, Officer Firkel knocked on the door of Kent’s residence and made contact with the homeowner.

“Mr. Kent was asked to step outside to speak with my officers concerning the reports of shots being fired,” Rowe said. “Mr. Kent became very belligerent at that point and informed Officer Firkel that he was not to enter his home and that no one was to enter his home.”

After Kent was asked several times to step outside, he retreated inside his residence and sat in a chair.

“Officer Firkel was still standing at the door at that time where he noticed Mr. Kent reaching for something beside his chair,” Rowe said. “For a brief moment, Officer Firkel’s line of sight was blocked, but he moved inside the doorway at which time he saw what Mr. Kent was attempting to retrieve n a firearm with a long barrel.”

Ducking For Cover

It was at this time that Firkel retreated from the doorway, took cover behind his vehicle and called for assistance.

Additional MPD officers arrived on the scene and after setting up a perimeter, they spent the next 15-to-20 minutes attempting to talk Kent out of the residence.

“Mr. Kent responded by coming to the front door with a shotgun visible in his hands,” Rowe said. “He cursed at the officers and ordered us to leave.”

Rowe said at this point he called for the assistance of other law enforcement agencies, including the SBI’s Tactical Response Team and a negotiator. He also ordered the immediate evacuation of residents in the mobile home park as well as those from a small portion of Jay Trail, located on the back side of the park.

While he did not know an exact number, Rowe said residents of approximately 15-to-20 homes were asked to leave.

“That was all about protecting the safety of our citizens,” Rowe said. “We also closed a portion of Main Street located in the immediate area of the mobile home park.”

Please Surrender

Meanwhile, Rowe hatched a plan that would involve Kent’s family and friends.

“Using the loudspeaker and microphone in my vehicle, one of Mr. Kent’s friends attempted to talk him into surrendering,” Rowe said. “Mr. Kent then appeared on his front porch, carrying what appeared to be a 12-gauge semi-automatic shotgun. He raised that weapon to his shoulder and aimed it at the officers. I immediately pushed his friend out of the line of fire.”

One of the officers fired several rounds at Kent. He was not struck and retreated back inside the residence.

Law enforcement dispatchers were able to contact Kent through his cell phone, but Rowe said that contact was cut off each time, apparently due to the subject hanging up. During one contact, Kent allegedly told the dispatcher that, “he would kill anyone that tried to come into his house.”

Kent’s stepbrother and stepfather came from nearby Franklin, Va. to attempt to convince their family member to surrender. Kent’s employer also arrived in an effort to accomplish the same feat.

“Mr. Kent would respond from time-to-time, but every time he came out on the porch he would not show his hands and refused to surrender, even though his family and friends were begging him to do so,” Rowe said.

Peaceful Ending

At around 10 p.m., Rowe said that Kent stepped completely out of the residence and onto the front porch. The shotgun remained visible in his hands. He was said to have screamed at his family and friends before reentering his residence.

“We had a takedown procedure in place just in case Mr. Kent came out of the house unarmed,” Rowe said. “We wanted him to get just far enough from the residence so we could take him down.”

That scenario fell into place at 10:25 p.m. when Kent emerged unarmed. When he stepped from the porch and into the yard, Rowe gave the takedown order.

“We were able to take him into custody without further incident,” Rowe said. “After we got the handcuffs on him, he made a statement that sent chills down my spine. It seems that he wished to cause deadly harm to the officers.”

Inside the home, lawmen discovered two weapons n a 12-gauge semi-automatic shotgun loaded with buckshot and a loaded .22 caliber rifle.

Following the arrest, the residents who were forced to evacuate were allowed to return to their homes.

Rowe thanked the Hertford County Sheriff’s Office, Winton Police, Aulander Police, Hertford County EMS, Murfreesboro Fire Department, Town of Murfreesboro Public Works and the SBI for their assistance.

“A situation that had all the markings for a tragic ending wound-up as one that ended peaceably,” Rowe concluded.