Standoff ends after suspected robber holds deputies at bay for 8 hours

Standoff ends after suspected robber holds deputies at bay for 8 hours. (Photo Courtesy: Justin Pritchard)

A tense, hours long standoff in sub-zero temperatures shut down a Van Buren County road for nearly eight hours, but ended peacefully.

newschannel 3's Nicky Zizaza reported at the Van Buren County Jail where the suspect involved is being held.

police say they had a warrant for the man at the center of this armed standoff and, while it took longer than expected, they are grateful it ended peacefully.

police identify Frank Cotman, 27, as the man who sent Van Buren County deputies on a wild police chase Wednesday morning.

Van Buren County Sheriff Daniel Abbott said, “When the guys got in a pursuit with him the AR Assault rifle was still in the passenger seat with a 30 round clip, with one in the chamber, so it could've ended a lot worse than what it did."

Abbott says the ordeal began when the 27-year-old pulled a gun on a man at a Hartford area auto shop, before prompting an hours long standoff.

Abbott said, "This morning we received a 911 call from a worker at a fix-it auto mechanic shop just east of Hartford who advised that a subject showed up there with an assault rifle, jumped out of the vehicle and threatened to shoot him. He was able to get in his vehicle and drive away without being shot."

Following the chase and after nearly nine hours barricaded inside a home near Hartford, police say Cotman surrendered.

Abbott said, “Our negotiator negotiated with him for several hours. When Berrien County SWAT team showed up they also had negotiators and took over and then we were able to get him out of the residence."

A peaceful end to what Abbott says deputies spent hours working toward in the bitter cold.

He said, "It's a lot harder for everybody involved, I mean you are in subzero weather out here it is hard on all of us. With the assistance of the Berrien SWAT team, along with our guys it was easier rotating guys around to get warm in time."

News of the wild chase and standoff ignited panic in neighbors like Justin Pritchard who snapped photos of the standoff.

Pritchard said, "I didn't know there was a crazy man living down the road."

He said he is grateful police reached a nonviolent conclusion.

Pritchard said, “it could've been us, that is what was going through my mind, we were all asleep when it all happened, it could've been our house you know."

Police had the road blocked off for hours rerouting traffic around the neighborhood.

Investigators say they are still trying to determine what provoked Cotman.

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