By Jean Cole
The burglary suspect at the center of a five-hour standoff today in Athens had reportedly vowed to kill himself or let police do it before the incident ended peacefully.
Benjamin “Ted” Moore, 35, was holed up in the home where he was staying at 1304 S. Houston St. before he surrendered about 2:45 p.m. He was charged with third-degree burglary in connection with a break-in and theft of tools at a privately owned building on Stewart Drive Tuesday night, Police Chief Floyd Johnson said.
Moore kept a cadre of officers, some armed with rifles and carrying shields, busy for five hours by refusing to exit the home. Police had gone there about 9:30 a.m. to question Moore about the burglary, Johnson said. They went to the door but got no answer. When they contacted the homeowner, who was letting Moore stay there, the owner said Moore might have weapons inside. Due to Moore’s past history and threats to police, officers decided to set up a perimeter and try to coax him out, Johnson said. The chief also said Moore had made threats to police as late as Wednesday night, and that Moore had told a relative “he would not be taken alive — that he would end it or police would end it for him.”
Moore’s 30-year-old girlfriend, who will not be charged, was in the home during the standoff.
Armed police officers set up a perimeter around the home and on adjacent blocks after evacuating nearby neighbors and closing the streets to traffic for about two blocks. The chief had contacted the Limestone County Sheriff’s Department to have its special weapons division on standby, if needed.
Officers had tried to call and text message Moore, but he did not respond, Johnson said.
Officers searched the areas around the home’s exterior to make sure Moore had not exited. At one point, three officers moved squad cars onto the front lawn of the home and an officer attempted to talk Moore out using a loud speaker. He finally emerged and was arrested without incident, the chief said.
With Moore in custody, Johnson gave reporters the thumbs-up sign before stopping to brief them on the incident. The chief thanked his officers as well as the fire and rescue workers who had staged in a parking lot behind Hometown Grocery during the standoff in case of an emergency.
“Our officers did an excellent job … everything went well,” Johnson said.