College Place standoff starts with shots, ends peacefully

Police say Jay Jeffrey fired at an officer before holing up in his home until 4:20 a.m. today.

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The morning after, the only signs of shots fired and a multi-hour standoff with police at a home at 639 SW Second Street in College Place are an unmarked police car parked out front and a shattered sliding glass door with bullet holes in the back of the house (visible above the pickup truck). Tuesday, May 4, 2010

COLLEGE PLACE -- A standoff that started Monday night with a man shooting at an officer ended peacefully early today.

The standoff, which included officers in an armored vehicle, ended at 4:20 a.m. when Jay Jeffrey, 42, walked out of his house on the corner of Southwest Second Street and Academy Way and was taken into custody.

The arrest capped a barricade situation that started shortly after 10 p.m. Monday when College Place Police Officers Robert Benfield and Harry Flemmer arrived at the home to do a "knock and talk" with Jeffrey, said Police Chief Dennis Lepiane.

The officers were acting on information they had received shortly before going to the home that Jeffrey had been seen acting strangely and had displayed a pistol to a neighbor the previous evening. According to a police report presented in Walla Walla County Superior Court this morning, after Jeffrey responded when officers knocked on the front door, he asked Benfield to go to a sliding glass door on the east side of the home.

The situation then turned dangerous in a hurry.

As Benfield approached the open door, he "could see a male subject crouching down and holding a pistol that was aimed directly at him. (Benfield) yelled 'gun' and took a step to the side and then heard three shots and a flash," according to the police report. One shot just missed Benfield.

"He was not hit, but it was close," Lepiane said.

Benfield and Flemmer immediately retreated, took cover and called for assistance. The area was closed off to traffic and additional police from College Place, Walla Walla, the Sheriff's Office and the Washington State Patrol arrived. Among those responding were the Walla Walla Police Emergency Service Unit and an armored vehicle from the Sheriff's Office.

The standoff continued over the next 6 1/2 hours with at least one more gunshot heard coming from the residence about 2 a.m., according to the police report. Jeffrey was also seen coming out of the residence twice after the shot was heard, one time holding a pistol and the second time with a long gun, before officers were able to persuade him to surrender.

At a hearing this morning before Superior Court Judge John Lohrmann, Jeffrey was ordered to be held on investigation of first-degree assault, reckless endangerment, aiming or discharging a firearm and felony harassment. Lohrmann set bail at $150,000.

According to the jail booking report, Jeffrey described himself as a "self-employed biological consultant." When asked if he understood his rights at the hearing, Jeffrey told Lohrmann, "I've been very sick the last two weeks and I haven't been getting much sleep."

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Joe Golden said prosecutors plan to ask that Jeffrey undergo a mental health evaluation.

Staff reporter Terry McConn contributed to this report. Andy Porter can be reached at andyporter@wwub.com or 526-8318. Check out his blog at blogs.ublabs.org/randomthoughts.

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