The Glendale community was shocked by a standoff between a neighborhood man and police Sunday night that required the evacuation of the surrounding residential buildings and ended in his suicide.
Mark Vasquez, 34, of 70th Avenue and 68th Street in Glendale, shot at NYPD officers and then barricaded himself inside his apartment’s bathroom before shooting himself in the chest, authorities said.
The tragic standoff lasted for a little more than three hours. Evacuated neighbors stood in the brisk early spring night behind police tape as a helicopter whirled overhead.
“We’ve never had anything like this,” said a 79-year-old neighbor who gave her name as Marie. “This is horrible.”
The owner of the building, who declined to give her name, said the situation started when Vasquez’s wife left him. After leaving the apartment, the wife called the apartment owner and told the owner her husband was not coherent and, if the police arrived, to let them in.
“When they came, I gave them the key,” the owner said. “They went upstairs and that’s when all hell broke loose.”
NYPD officers arrived at the house at around 6:30 p.m., after which Vasquez fired upon them, police said. The officers were not hurt and did not return fire, but took cover while Vasquez locked himself in his apartment, police said. Those who lived in the surrounding apartments were evacuated as an EMS hostage negotiation team responded, police said.
The owner said Vasquez’s attack was a shock and that he seemed like a friendly, normal person.
“I never had a problem with him,” she said.
Vasquez did not take any hostages, although rumors circulated among neighbors that he had. In addition to those in the house, neighbors in nearby dwellings were asked to leave their homes. They stood out in the cold and dark while officers taped off streets between Central and Otto avenues and 67th to 68th places.
“The helicopter was flying above our heads for the last half hour,” 26-year-old neighbor Karol Urban said around 8 p.m.
Police said they had attempted to make contact with Vasquez when he was barricaded but were unable to do so. A camera was used to locate Vasquez in the apartment, and they found him inside the bathtub in the bathroom, police said.
When the officers entered at 10:10 p.m., they found Vasquez dead with a gunshot wound to the chest.
A neighbor, who declined to give her name, said she had never seen a situation like the standoff and suicide Sunday night.
“I guess it happens everywhere,” she said. “It just didn’t happen before.”
Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cn
©2012 Community News Group
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