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Wellsville man arrested after armed standoff

October 6, 2012
Morning Journal News

WELLSVILLE After holding officers at bay and allegedly firing shots in their direction Thursday morning, a Commerce Street man was taken into custody with no injuries to anyone involved.

Joel Possage, 34, 1712 Commerce Street, was charged by village police with felonious assault after the standoff which began just before 7 a.m. when officers were called by a neighbor.

According to reports in county Municipal Court Friday, a woman who lives nearby called police after reportedly learning Possage intended to kill his wife and himself, telling officers one shot had already been fired, and she feared someone might be dead inside.

Chief Joseph Scarabino said patrolmen Jeff Weekley and Luke Skidmore went to the scene and had positioned themselves outside the garage at the rear of the home after determining Possage was inside with a cache of weapons and ammunition.

After hearing what sounded like a round chambered, officers notified Scarabino who made sure the Possage home and other surrounding houses were not occupied. They were joined by Liverpool Township Lt. Justin Wright, who until recently was a Wellsville patrolman.

As officers surrounded the garage, Scarabino attempted to negotiate with Possage, saying, "I knew him in passing. I told him to put down his guns and come out."

At one point, the man door "popped open" and Possage asked, "Who are you?"

When Scarabino identified himself, Possage reportedly told the chief to come inside with him. When Scarabino advised he could not do that, Possage closed the door.

About 15 minutes later, the same scenario ensued, with Possage opening the door, asking Scarabino to come in and being told that wasn't possible.

"I kept asking him to come out, and he kept telling me to come in," Scarabino said. "I told him, 'Let's not do this.'"

After the door was slammed shut the second time, a round was allegedly fired from inside, ripping through the trim of the garage toward the officers, missing them by less than three feet.

"At that point, I thought, 'Here we go,' and I yelled, 'Hey, it doesn't have to be like this,' and there was silence," Scarabino related.

Suddenly, Possage emerged from the main garage door into Center Alley, carrying in his right hand a .357 magnum revolver and in his left hand a semi-automatic rifle. In his front pocket he had a 9mm Glock handgun.

All three weapons were fully-loaded, Scarabino reported, saying, "He's looking at officer Skidmore and I yell, 'Drop the weapons,' and suddenly everyone's yelling, 'Drop the weapons.' With guns on him, we begin to approach."

With armed officers headed for him, Possage reportedly dropped the revolver from his left hand but hesitated before dropping the rifle from his right hand.

Officers continued toward him and Scarabino grabbed the Glock from Possage's pocket while Wright ordered him to the ground.

Scarabino said Possage began to resist and Skidmore used his Taser to subdue the gunman, who was then handcuffed by Weekley and Wright.

"When we approached him, we didn't have time to rehearse. All this happened in an instant," Scarabino said of the take-down of the armed man.

In addition to the Wellsville department, the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation is assisting in the investigation, coming to the scene and processing evidence.

Possage appeared Friday in county Municipal Court on one count of felonious assault, and a preliminary hearing was scheduled Oct. 22, with bond set at $250,000.

Staff Writer Katie Schwendeman contributed to this article.



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