Las Vegas Sun

September 18, 2014

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Police arrest man after 24 hours

A man at the center of a daylong standoff in Henderson was upset he was being evicted over the damage his 13 pit bulls caused and promised a "dramatic standoff," the woman who ordered the eviction said.

The woman, who asked that her name not be used because she feared retribution, said 38-year-old Jeffrey M. Donnelly told his girlfriend, her daughter, that the standoff on his last day in the house would "be so big they'd make a movie out of it."

Donnelly holed up in a house in the 800 block of Viento del Montagna Avenue on Monday and held police at bay for just over 24 hours. SWAT officers from Henderson and Metro's police departments pulled him out of the house just after 2 p.m. Tuesday without incident.

Donnelly was booked into the Henderson jail on charges of false imprisonment, coercion and being an ex-felon in possession of a firearm.

During the standoff police fired tear gas and threw several "flash-bang" grenades, which make a loud noise, into the house to try to get him out. Police said Donnelly fired 17 shots during the standoff. He didn't hit anyone, and police said they didn't return fire.

Henderson Police Chief Michael Mayberry said the standoff was probably the longest in Henderson's history.

"This individual was prepared to fight," Mayberry said. "If he had chosen to fight this would've had a much different ending."

The Las Vegas Fire & Rescue bomb squad, the only one in the valley, removed a small homemade explosive device, similar to fireworks, from the property after Donnelly was removed, said Fire Deputy Chief Richard Gracia.

The homeowner said she called Henderson police a week before the standoff and explained to police that Donnelly had told her daughter, his girlfriend, about staging a standoff with police.

"I told them I knew there would be problems," she said. "He's a felon, spent 12 years in prison and was on drugs."

She said police told her she would need to go through the "proper procedures" and that nothing could be done.

Police said they were unable to confirm that she called, but said it was possible a call was made but not logged because no officer was assigned to respond.

"If that was the call, that's like you calling and saying 'I'm afraid someone's going to break into my house next week,' " Officer Shane Lewis said. "What can we do with that? There's no current crime. We can't watch your house 24/ 7."

He said the police might suggest possible precautions.

"The logical response would be if you have any problems give us a call, we'll be right here," he said

The standoff began Monday after Henderson Police received a call from the homeowner who said her daughter, Jill Powers, was being held hostage by her boyfriend.

Police negotiators convinced Donnelly to release Powers shortly after they arrived at the scene. She later explained she stayed in the house willingly to keep him from becoming violent.

The homeowner said Donnelly had originally held his 17-year-old son inside the house the morning before the standoff began because "he didn't want to be alone."

Powers called Donnelly and convinced him to let his son go in exchange for herself, she said.

"I am angry at my daughter for that because I didn't know about that," the homeowner said. "She basically exchanged herself for Jeff's son to leave. It was a very dangerous situation."

Eighty to 100 Henderson and Metro officers were at the scene during the course of the standoff.

Metro's SWAT team arrived about 6 a.m. to relieve some of the Henderson officers who had been at the scene since the afternoon before.

Metro Police Capt. Dan Barry said Donnelly kept saying he was going to surrender, but instead he piled furniture against doors and windows.

"He had no intent whatsoever of coming out without killing himself or one of us," Barry said.

During the standoff, neighbors weren't allowed in their homes and traffic on nearby Lake Mead Parkway was rerouted. The neighborhood is near the intersection of Gibson Road and Lake Mead Parkway.

Life returned to normal for the residents Tuesday afternoon.

Residents, though, lauded Henderson and Metro Police for keeping them safe and credited the incident for giving them a chance to bond with their neighbors.

"We need to have a big street party or a summer block party," Kris Scott told several neighbors while she waited to be allowed back into her house after Donnelly was arrested. Others suggested having a party on the one-year anniversary of the standoff.

Mayberry apologized to residents for the inconvenience but explained that police allowed the standoff to last so long because they wanted to "take every step possible" to save Donnelly's life.

"Fortunately today he's just going to the jail and not to the morgue," he said.

DeeDee Taurman, who lives next door, leaned over reporters to shake the hands of Mayberry and Barry after a press conference and thanked them for keeping the neighbors safe.

Sandra Redman praised the police for helping with her dogs.

After leaving them alone for many hours, she approached officers Tuesday and asked him to feed her two mini schnauzers and German shepherd and make sure they had water.

"I was starting to panic," she said, adding that she was afraid the dogs would be frightened by the dark and noise. She was relieved when the officers returned her house keys and told her the dogs were fine.

Jeff and Vivian Pyle, who live on Vista del Mar Street at Viva Fiesta Avenue, the first house outside the police tape, opened their house to neighbors who needed to use the bathroom during the night and allowed police to use their hose to wash up after the standoff.

"We didn't even know each other before this," Taurman said before saying goodbye to Vivian Pyle and telling her she'd see her soon.

Sun reporter

Molly Ball contributed to this story.

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