Sep. 8-A man who police say was shooting a firearm outside his Danville Road Southwest home early Tuesday morning was taken into custody following an hours-long standoff that ended after a Decatur police SWAT team fired gas canisters into his residence.
Anthony Joseph Messina, 37, 1605 Danville Road S.W., was charged with shooting into an occupied building, a Class B felony punishable by two to 20 years in prison, and is being held in lieu of $30,000 bond, according to jail records.
Police blocked off Danville Road from Westmeade Street to Evelee Street for hours as they sought to negotiate Messina's surrender while he refused to leave his locked house.
When negotiations failed, police fired a flash-bang grenade and multiple gas canisters into the residence as they spoke through a bullhorn trying to get Messina to come out. After a tense standoff, the shirtless, barefoot man left the house and was taken into custody at 8:48 a.m.
Capt. Jeremy Hayes said police received the report of shots fired outside the residence at about 6 a.m.
"He was waving the firearm around and discharging it recklessly. Upon arrival, the subject went back into the house. Officers investigated and located at least one residence and one car that had been fired into," Hayes said. "The subject would not respond to officers and at that point a perimeter was set up and our SWAT team and negotiators were called in."
Dozens of police vehicles, including two tactical vans, were at the site. Curious neighbors and passersby congregated just outside the police perimeter.
Hayes said negotiations took place for a lengthy period of time before a decision was made to deploy gas. An officer warned the subject through a bullhorn that gas would be deployed in five minutes, and began a minute-by-minute countdown as he told the man to exit the house with his hands up.
The SWAT team stood behind a tactical vehicle on Danville Road until shortly before the gas was deployed with a gas launcher. They then walked closer to the house, guns raised, maintaining cover behind a vehicle parked next door. Windows could be heard shattering as about a half dozen gas canisters were fired into the house.
"We deployed gas and the subject eventually came out without incident," Hayes said. "He had no injuries and gave us no incident after that. Nobody else was injured."
Hayes said the man resided in the house where the standoff took place.
The incident occurred just north of Austin Junior High. Dwight Satterfield, deputy superintendent of Decatur City Schools, said Austin Junior was placed on heightened alert during the incident and buses were rerouted to avoid the scene.
Messina pleaded guilty to third-degree arson in 2017 after starting a fire at Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q on Sixth Avenue.
According to court records, Messina was seen on video surveillance shortly after midnight on March 5, 2017, piling up cardboard boxes on plastic trash cans outside the popular restaurant and setting them on fire.
"The male continued to add other pieces of cardboard and wood to the growing fire for several minutes before leaving the scene," said Decatur police Detective Timothy Jackson in a court affidavit at the time.
Messina was sentenced to a year in jail, but the sentence was suspended and he was placed on supervised probation. He was released early from his probation after complying with all conditions, including paying $2,000 in restitution.
- firstname.lastname@example.org or 256-340-2435. Twitter @DD_Fleischauer.