Syracuse

What closed street exterior DeWitt Wegmans? A machete, standoff, gunfire and bomb scare – syracuse.com

DeWitt, NY — A machete-wielding man who charged police and set fire to an apartment during a standoff Saturday morning led to the prolonged closure of one of the county’s busiest thoroughfares, DeWitt police said.

East Genesee Street in front of the DeWitt Wegmans was closed for most of the day Saturday as police responded to the tense situation at a building housing the Hair Shed salon across the street from the grocery store. The street reopened around 4 p.m.

Jonathan Almonte, 33, who lives upstairs from the salon, threatened a neighbor with a machete, barricaded himself in a second-floor apartment, set fire to the building and later threw the bladed weapon at officers before being arrested, police said.

During the standoff, police said an officer fired one bullet from a service weapon as Almonte charged officers with the machete. The bullet missed, and Almonte then threw the machete at officers, narrowly missing them, police said.

Almonte was then arrested. No one was injured.

Police described the bizarre and unnerving encounter in a Saturday evening news release:

Officers were first called to the Hair Shed salon building, 6840 E. Genesee St., around 9:20 a.m. Saturday for a report of a man threatening a neighbor with a machete.

When officers arrived, Almonte barricaded himself in the upstairs portion of the apartment building, where both he and the neighbor lived, police said. The neighbor was able to escape.

For three hours, a DeWitt crisis negotiator communicated with Almonte in an unsuccessful attempt to have him come out peacefully, police said.

During that time, Almonte entered the neighbor’s apartment and an adjacent storage room and began throwing items out of a second-story window. He also threatened to burn the building down, police said.

Nearby residents and businesses were evacuated. At some point, Almonte set a fire inside the building, causing unspecified damage, police said.

Around 12:15 p.m.., Almonte came out of the front door of the building holding the machete, police said.

He refused repeated orders to drop the bladed instrument, instead running in the direction of officers who had surrounded the building, police said.

Multiple officers fired Tasers at Almonte, but that did not stop him, police said. One officer, who has not been identified, fired one round from a service firearm, but did not hit Almonte, police said.

That’s when Almonte threw the machete at officers, police said, “nearly striking them.”

Now unarmed, Almonte was taken into custody without further incident, police said.

The investigation raised alarm that there could be bomb-making materials in the building. But a county sheriff’s office bomb squad found nothing.

Almonte faces multiple felonies, including arson, burglary, illegal weapon possession and attempted aggravated assault on a police officer, as well as misdemeanors of menacing, resisting arrest and criminal mischief.

Almonte remains in custody and will be jailed pending arraignment. Because he faces numerous violent felonies, a judge is allowed to order him into custody unless he can pay cash bail.

If convicted, Almonte could face more than a decade in prison on the burglary charge alone.

DeWitt police said the name of the officer who discharged the firearm will be released after a 72-hour delay.

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