News From Terre Haute, Indiana

September 23, 2006

14-hour standoff finishes peacefully

By Laura Followell

CLOVERDALE — Gene Laswell hid underneath a truck Friday night and watched a standoff unfold across the street between an off-duty Clay County Sheriff’s deputy and Indiana State Police.

“We’ve never seen anything like this before,” Laswell said Saturday. “It was something different.”

Laswell said he watched through binoculars as a tactical unit sketched out plans.

“It was wild,” he said.

Deputy Jonathan Lambert, 34, of Brazil was taken into custody at 12:20 a.m. Saturday without further incident following the 14-hour standoff at his home, said Clay County Sheriff Mike Heaton.

Lambert, who has been a Clay County deputy since 1999, was taken to the Parke County Jail where he was being detained Saturday without bail, Heaton said.

At 3 a.m., Clay Circuit Court Judge Robert Pell denied Lambert bail, Heaton said.

The criminal charges are confidential and were not available to the public, authorities said.

Police stated Lambert walked out of his back door after talking to crisis negotiators and surrendered to police.

A wooden-welcome sign hung on the front of his residence and two porch lights were on, indicating that power had been restored. Lambert’s house was in disarray after the incident, both inside and out. Every window on the house was broken and covered with black plastic.

The lawn was littered with stand-off related debris, including an empty, dented can of “Clear Out,” a type of tear gas. The smell of it was still being emitted from the house after Indiana State Police Emergency Response Team launched the gas inside the home Friday.

Lambert’s front door remained open. Inside the door, a small, dark couch had been turned with cushions facing the wall. A beige ball cap embroidered with a star and the words “Indiana Sheriff” rested atop one of the cushions.

Lambert was wanted on felony charges after the Clay County Sheriff’s Department received a complaint early Friday morning. Lambert refused to turn himself in. State Police then attempted to serve a criminal-arrest warrant at about 10:30 a.m. Lambert refused to leave his house, at which time police say they secured the area and the standoff ensued.

At one point, Lambert came out of the home and fired one round from a “long gun” into the ground, then went back inside. After he re-entered, police say he fired a second shot from a handgun through the window. The shots were not fired toward officers.

Heaton said he did everything he could.

“I notified State Police, immediately, to investigate, which is protocol,” Heaton said Saturday. “We will not investigate one of our own by any means, just to alleviate any chance of cover-up [accusations].

“If there’s a problem and someone has a complaint, that’s turned over to State Police immediately,” he said.

Anastasia Pine, whose property is adjacent to Lambert’s, said she was unaware of the situation until neighbors informed her.

“All I saw was SWAT and guns — and big guns,” Pine said. “… Once I saw all these SWAT guys with guns and stuff, I flipped out.”

About 60 law-enforcement officers responded to the standoff at the Vigo-Clay county line, authorities said.

About the arrest of one of his deputies, Heaton said, “It’s a very bad situation. It has given the department a black eye.

“We have a job to do,” he said, “and I don’t care who you are; we are not above the law.”

Laura Followell can be reached at (812) 231-4253 or laura.followell@tribstar.com.