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Community Safety

Springfield Chief: Apparent Death of Hostages Lengthened Standoff

Scott Harvey

The two children who were found dead in a Springfield apartment unit following a lengthy standoff are believed to have been killed before officers arrived on scene.

Police Chief Paul Williams told reporters Tuesday that officials early in the standoff became quite certain the children were deceased, changing the situation from a hostage to an armed and barricaded negotiation.

“And at that point, there’s really no reason to rush if we think that to be the case. I think in this case this individual clearly had a desire for us to do what he ultimately did to himself, and that’s not something we’re going to rush into and let him dictate that type of a situation,” Williams said.

William R. Williams was found dead inside his Lake Shore Apartments' unit with a self-inflicted gunshot wound late Monday afternoon. The man’s son and daughter, 4-year-old Brodie and 2-year-old Marley were also found dead due to a gunshot. Preliminary reports show the children died between 24-48 hours before officers found them. It’s believed the father shot himself sometime Monday afternoon, after police or family were last able to communicate with him.

Police Chief Williams called negotiations with the man “pretty frequent,” either through phone call or loudspeaker, all the way up until about noon on Monday.

At one point during the standoff, the suspect appeared on the porch of his second story apartment unit. But Williams says the man never presented his firearm in a threatening manner, nor did he make any verbal threats.

“There are some very clear guidelines on when we utilize deadly force, and simply someone standing out in public with a firearm is not one of those.”

Handguns, rifles and other ammunition were said to be found inside the apartment. A specific number was not given.

Police say one previous incident had occurred at the residence a few months back; a domestic dispute between the man and the child’s mother.

Williams declined to give specifics on how the bomb squad robots were utilized. The devices were apparent during the standoff and appeared to the source from which a large boom was heard, as described by witnesses.  Williams would only say that noise was the result of efforts to gain entry into the apartment unit.

The roughly 22 hour standoff was the longest such incident in Springfield in 15 years, according to the chief. At one point, 25-30 the of city’s tactical officers had to be relieved of duty after working for 12 hours. The Springfield Police Department called upon the Missouri State Highway Patrol for assistance, and Williams applauded the seamless transition of force, as the two agencies held a joint command of the situation.

Officers were also tasked with keeping a fairly large perimeter, which disabled access to many units for Lake Shore residents in and around Building 29.

“I understand frustration from folks being out. But at that point we’re going to take as long as we need to take make sure that everybody is safe and the situation is resolved as best we can.”

He added that while most people focus on the tactical aspect, several officers during the ordeal were observed in a role that not everyone sees.

“Being empathetic and caring and sympathetic, Williams said. “Officers who interacted with family members and continued… just as we had tactical folks on point for 12 or 14 hours, officers engaged with family and friends for that same amount of time. I couldn’t be prouder of the way that all the officers with Springfield Police Department responded during this ordeal.”  

The perimeter was reduced around 8 p.m. Monday after the standoff had concluded. The entire area was opened back up at around 5:30 a.m. Tuesday after officials had processed the crime scene. 

Lake Shore Apartments issued the following statement to residents Tuesday afternoon:

It is with a heavy heart that we provide you with this difficult correspondence.  We apologize for the mass communication, but feel it’s essential to provide you with the most accurate information available on the incident that took place within the Lake Shore Apartment Community over the last couple of days.
As you know, we had a situation in which a resident barricaded himself in his apartment, ultimately taking his life and that of his children. Our community is heartbroken by this situation and our thoughts and prayers are with the families involved.
From the moment this situation unfolded, your safety and security was our utmost concern – relocating residents to other units or the clubhouse, and supporting the Springfield Police Department and other officials in any way possible.
With the short-term crisis being over, we now move toward healing as a community. Recovering from a situation like this takes time and we are here to support that process. If you need someone to talk with or are interested in grief counseling, our office can supply you with community resources available upon request.
We thank you for being part of our Lake Shore family. It is the strength and endurance of our residents and staff that maintains our sense of community.

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