Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Police arrest sword-wielding man after standoff in Mullica

From the Press of Atlantic City, Wednesday, September 2, 2009-Eric Scott Campbell, Staff Writer

Mullica Township - A sword-wielding suicidal man kept a SWAT team at bay for an hour and a half Wednesday afternoon, police said.

Matthew Whalen, 25, was arrested about 6 p.m. outside a house on Pleasant Mills Road, next to the Mullica River. About 4:30, shortly after a companion called 911, officers arrived to find Whalen holding a three-foot-long martial-arts sword, Detective Sgt. John Thompson said.

Whalen was alone, speaking with township police, neighboring towns' officers in the Atlantic County Emergency Response Team and a standoff negotiator, threatening to commit suicide, Thompson said. At one point, he got in a canoe and began paddling away with the sword in his lap, then returned.

Whalen began threatening violence against the officers, getting close enough that they would have had to consider using deadly force, until a police dog subdued him enough to be arrested, Thompson said.

Charges of aggravated assault on a police officer and assault on a police canine joined the various weapons-related offenses Whalen faces. Thompson said he seized "10 different types of martial-arts weapons" from the house.

After a brief hospital treatment, Whalen was taken to the Atlantic County Jail in lieu of $25,000 bail.

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