SIDNEY – Traffic was diverted, students weren’t permitted to walk home and a family allowed a police sniper to set up in their house during Wednesday afternoon’s standoff in Sidney.
The standoff began around 1 p.m. Wednesday after a woman called 911 and said her ex-boyfriend, Wendell Johnson, 48, of Richmond, Indiana, had restrained her and assaulted her. The 29-year-old woman was able to convince Johnson to release her and called 911, leading to a standoff that lasted almost five hours on the 600 block of Fair Road.
Naomi Riegel, who lives in a nearby house on Highland Avenue, said she was relaxing at home when a text from her mother alerted her to the police presence in the area.
“I look outside and there’s like two guys with big, huge guns in the yard next to me, and there’s a guy in the alleyway, and they’re all looking at the same house,” Riegel said.
Riegel watched law enforcement – which ultimately included the Sidney and Piqua Tactical Response Teams and the Allen County Bomb Squad – from her home. Officers then knocked on a door and asked Riegel if they could set up inside her house as a back window had a view of the residence where Johnson was located.
The officers, including a sniper, encouraged Riegel and her grandfather John Hosack, who also lives in the home on Highland Avenue, to leave during the standoff for the family’s safety.
“The police were very professional,” Hosack said. “I was impressed. They treated us all right.”
With police permission, Hosack returned home around 5 p.m. as he needed to take medications. Police were still in his house at that time, and the electricity in the neighborhood had been shut off by Dayton Power and Light at the request of law enforcement.
Almost an hour after he returned home, Hosack said, police came downstairs and left the house when it was confirmed that Johnson had died.
By the time Riegel returned home after 6 p.m., the police had left her house.
“It was a little strange because you never think that that kind of thing can happen so close to home,” she said.
Hosack and Riegel said there was nothing unusual about the Fair Road residence prior to Wednesday’s standoff. Riegel had often seen children playing outside of the house on previous occasions.
During the standoff, police shut down roads in the area, and Sidney City Schools put Emerson Primary School and Sidney Middle School on lockdown.
When school was dismissed Wednesday afternoon, Sidney City Schools did not allow any students to walk home from Emerson, Sidney Middle School or Sidney High School.
“It just took a while,” Sidney City Schools Superintendent Bob Humble said of getting students home from school. “Parents were very patient with us, and we were so happy about that. They did a great job.”
Humble was attending a meeting in Vandalia when he heard about the standoff. He returned to Sidney and worked with Sidney Police Chief William Balling to reroute traffic from the schools to avoid the area of the standoff.
The Sidney superintendent commended the Sidney Police Department for its communication with the school, and the school district’s staff members for their efforts to keep students safe and parents informed.
“We all worked like a well oiled machine,” Humble said. “It went really, really well.”
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