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'Suicide By Cop' Threat Prompts 5-Hour Standoff, Prosecutor Says

15 firearms and pellet rifle allegedly found in Watchung man's Johnston Drive residence.

A Watchung man said he had "homicidal" thoughts and threatened "suicide by cop," prompting a and evacuated nearby homes Sunday, the Somerset County Prosecutor's Office said.

Gregory Zarhardt, 65, of Johnston Drive, was charged with third-degree making terroristic threats after surrendering to authorities Sunday night shortly after 8 p.m.

Following the arrest, authorities discovered 15 firearms and a pellet rifle inside the residence, Somerset County Prosecutor Geoffrey Soriano said.

According to Soriano, the received a call at about 2:30 p.m., from a man authorities described as "extremely distraught" who was contemplating suicide and having "homicidal thoughts." The caller also indicated he was considering "suicide by cop," the prosecutor's office said.

"Due to gravity of the information received as well as prior incidents involving defendant Zarhardt," the Somerset County SWAT team and Somerset County Crisis Negotiation Management Team responded to the scene at about 4:30 p.m., the prosecutor's office said.

Nearby homes were evacuated and the neighborhood was locked down, the prosecutor's office said.

As authorities surrounded Zarhardt's home, initial attempts to reach him by phone were unsuccessful, the prosecutor's office said. Zarhardt did not respond for an extended period of time to instructions to exit his home and surrender to authorities, the prosecutor's office said.

Members of the negotiation team were able to eventually make contact with Zarhardt, who surrendered at about 8:05 p.m., the prosecutor's office said.

Zarhardt was lodged at the Somerset County Jail. Judge Thomas Miller set a cash bail of $15,000.

jane August 20, 2012 at 09:07 PM
How much did this cost the taxpayers of Watchung and Somerset County for this very selfish act? I hope Mr. Zarhardt plans on reimbursing everyone.
Bobbie Sloan August 21, 2012 at 12:15 PM
Maybe we should have a little compassion, he seems as though he needs help, not jail. He should have been taken to a hospital for evaluation, he said he was trying to kill himself,by a cop shooting him!
KarenP August 21, 2012 at 04:09 PM
Interesting- I live one block over from here and never got evacuated! We saw a lot of cop and ambulance activity, but that was it.

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