Standoff ends without gunfire

Published 6:26 pm Friday, December 26, 2008

FRANKLIN—State and county police, some wearing body armor, surrounded a home on Dogwood Bend Road Friday afternoon after receiving a call that a man was holding his girlfriend hostage at gunpoint. The standoff ended peacefully over an hour later, when the woman was allowed to leave and the man surrendered.

A man named Charles Horton was taken into police custody. It was not clear at press time what criminal charges, if any, he faces.

According to scanner transmissions from the Southampton County Sheriff’s Office, the woman called police to report that she had been held hostage since Thursday. She told police that she was hiding in a closet, and that the man had two high-powered shotguns with him.

Police surrounded the house at 4:45 p.m., and blocked off a portion of Dogwood Bend Road. About 15 minutes later, several county deputies were observed outside the home, all of them wearing body armor. Some were taking up positions in nearby woods and residences, weapons drawn.

At 5:02 p.m., the woman was allowed to leave the home. Her alleged captor remained inside and called his children, a dispatcher told deputies.

“He said he’s not going to go to jail,” the dispatcher said. “He’s going to do himself in.”

By 5:22 p.m., police had apparently determined that the victim was unharmed.

“She seems to be O.K.,” was heard over the police scanner.

At about 5:45 p.m., a man approached a state police trooper at the barricade south of the house and identified himself as Dennis Horton. He said that the man inside the house was his brother, Charles Horton. A county deputy standing nearby told the state trooper that Dennis Horton had a few minutes earlier tried unsuccessfully to pass the police barricade at the north end of Dogwood Bend Road.

Dennis Horton told the state trooper that he had been in contact with his brother several times on his cell phone, and had offered to go to the house and walk him out.

“He’s afraid that someone is going to shoot him,” Dennis Horton said. “I told him that if he has any guns out, if they’re out of the cabinet, to just put them back in and come out with his arms up like this,” he said, gesturing with his arms up in the air.

“He told me, ‘let me finish this beer and then I’ll come out,’” Dennis Horton said.

Dennis Horton said Charles Horton told him that he had had an argument with his girlfriend, and that his brother was in the process of packing up his belongings to move out. A weapon was lying in the vicinity, and the woman pulled the trigger and fired a single shot that hit a kitchen cabinet, Charles Horton told his brother.

According to Dennis Horton, the woman then told Charles Horton that she planned to tell police that he tried to shoot her. The woman then also took a shower, presumably to remove powder residue from the shot that was fired, Horton said.

“They should do a (powder residue) test on her,” Dennis Horton said. “They’ll be able to tell who’s lying.”

It wasn’t clear what kind of weapon was fired in the home.

Charles Horton surrendered to police at about 6:15 p.m. About 15 minutes later, police scanner transmissions said the house was secure and that officers on the scene could begin to disperse.

Southampton County Sheriff Vernie Francis left the scene, and said he was glad that no one was hurt. He said the incident was under investigation. He declined to comment further, or to confirm anything that Dennis Horton had said.