Clearfield County standoff ends in suicide

A 10-hour standoff with police ended with the subject committing suicide Thursday night in Cooper Township, Clearfield County.

Douglas Benner, 57, barricaded himself in his home around noon Thursday after deputies from the Clearfield County Sheriff’s Department arrived there to serve a bench warrant on him, according to Clearfield County District Attorney William Shaw.

The warrant was issued earlier this month after Benner failed to appear for a preliminary hearing in a retail theft case.

In an impromptu news conference near the scene of the standoff at about 9:30 p.m., Shaw said Benner made menacing comments to the deputies. After they spotted what appeared to be a homemade bomb on his porch, the deputies backed away and secured the scene. A Special Emergency Response Team was called to the residence.

The deputies saw a propane tank with wires attached to it, Shaw said. Officials used a robot to inspect the tank and found it had a triggering mechanism. Police then declared it a hazardous situation. Even though there were no other residences directly next to Benner’s home, a few nearby residences were evacuated as a precaution. A state Department of Transportation crew blocked the roadway, limiting access to the area.

“This was a simple warrant for retail theft and unfortunately it turned into this,” Shaw said.

Benner was close to surrendering at one time, but he “had a change of heart.”

At the time of the news conference, Shaw said electrical service to the residence was being cut off to encourage Benner to surrender. Shaw was hopeful at that point that the situation was going to be resolved peacefully. That didn’t happen.

At about 11 p.m., Shaw confirmed on his Facebook page that Benner had suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

He also said explosive experts from state police were still on the scene to neutralize any explosive threats.

Shaw offered his appreciation on Facebook to all the volunteer firefighters, EMS workers, PennDOT workers and Penelec employees who “helped with this tragic event.”

“This is an unfortunate ending but I am extremely thankful that no law enforcement officers were injured,” he posted.