Suspect in Custody After Reidsville Standoff - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

03/17/04

Suspect in Custody After Reidsville Standoff

An armored vehicle with a ram knocks out the window... An armored vehicle with a ram knocks out the window...
...so tear gas could be fired inside. ...so tear gas could be fired inside.

A neighborhood dispute wound up looking like something from a movie in Reidsville, in Tattnal County. WTOC was on the scene as officers had to force an armed man from a house. Small Street was anything but as this Reidsville neighborhood was full of lawmen and people with questions. Maryland Smith got in an argument with one of his neighbors, who called the police.

"When I approached from the west end of Small Street, I saw him point a firearm at my vehicle," said Chief Dal Anderson of  Reidsville PD.

"I've been there two to three times a day to see about him," said neighbor Daphne Summerset. "He's never had a gun."

The chief says Smith spent the next few hours threatening police and refusing to leave his home. By then, GBI and state patrol SWAT units arrived. Police say Smith suffers from mental illness. They say he refused to talk with negotiators or his own father.

But his sister, Lois Richardson, has a different story. "They said, 'Stand back, you can't go further. The SWAT team is taking over,'" she told us.

And take over they did. In an armored car, they fired tear gas through every window. When that didn't work, a battering ram took out part of the roof. They then shattered each window and fired more gas.

Finally they tossed flash bombs in the windows. The fire from those forced Smith outside. Lawmen say a scar on his belly comes from a fight with police decades ago. "I've dealt with Maryland since 1986 and he's been emotionally not all together," said Chief Anderson.

While relatives think such force wasn't necessary, they're thankful Smith is still alive. He's in the Tattnall County jail facing various charges and a mental health evaluation this morning.

Reported by: Dal Cannady, dcannady@wtoc.com

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