SWAT expertise wins FW standoff

Posted Thursday, Jan. 02, 2014  comments  Print Reprints

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On TV, the SWAT team usually breaks through the door with a loud crash and rushes in to confront the suspect.

On Tuesday, Fort Worth’s real-life SWAT team waited. Nerves on edge, probably, because the murder suspect in the house on Permian Lane had already fired several shots at them.

There was no letting their guard down. The SWAT commander had ordered them to “be ready with a lethal option” should the man emerge from the house shooting.

In the end, after five hours, it was a disciplined, almost textbook standoff that turned out about as well as could be expected for the Fort Worth Police Department’s tactical team members.

The suspect, 49-year-old John St. Angelo of Haslet, eventually emerged from the house to surrender.

Police said he had self-inflicted gunshot wounds. He was transported to John Peter Smith Hospital with what a MedStar spokesman said were “serious but non-life-threatening injuries.”

Parsons was charged in the death of his ex-wife, Suzanne Parsons, who was pronounced dead Monday afternoon at a real estate office where she worked on Heritage Trace Parkway.

The Tarrant County medical examiner reported she died of “multiple stab and cut wounds of the neck and chest.”

During the standoff on Permian Lane, the SWAT team took advantage of high-tech equipment. A robot sent into the home filled it with “hot gas,” first downstairs and then upstairs where the suspect had taken refuge.

Negotiators established a communications line with the man, but he frequently broke off talks or at times was unable to speak because of the gas.

There must have been hundreds of ways for this situation to have gone bad. On TV, it would have — for dramatic effect.

But the standoff ended when the suspect apparently couldn’t take it anymore.

Discipline and training enabled the SWAT team to win a very dangerous encounter, and no members of the team were injured in the process. That’s what you want.

We thank them and commend them for their service.

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