Lehigh Valley

Police: Suspect in Bethlehem Twp. standoff is dead

Shelter in place has been lifted.

BETHLEHEM TOWNSHIP, Pa. - After nine hours, the violent standoff that held a Bethlehem Township neighborhood hostage ended when authorities say they entered the home and found the suspect dead from what appears to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The suspect has been identified as Justin Erik Kephart, 36. The victim, whose body lay outside in the yard throughout the ordeal, is Kephart's mother.

Police did not identify her but did say Kephart called another family member and told them he shot her.

According to Pennsylvania State Police, it all began around 1:30 p.m. when officers responded to 1543 Dennis Street for a call of a woman bleeding outside.

Sometime after arrival, police say Kephart fired on them. The officers were not hit, however, one was pinned down behind a vehicle.

That's when tactical police vehicles and heavily armed troopers responded and a shelter in place was called for the neighborhood.

The suspect continued to shoot at police throughout the ordeal all while negotiations were ongoing.

"They were telling him, 'please come out, put your hands up, and let us talk to you, she's already gone' and stuff like that, 'you might as well just give it up,'" said neighbor Robert Gist.

Eventually, police entered the home on a search and arrest warrant for attempted homicide of a police officer and found Kephart dead.

Police then gave the all clear on the Bethlehem Township Police Department’s Facebook page around 10:30 p.m.

Court records show Kephart is no stranger to the law. He served time for drug charges and probations for assault.

Back in 2014, on his Facebook page he posted in support of Eric Frein, who was convicted and sentenced to death for the 2014 Pennsylvania State Police barracks attack in which he shot and killed one state trooper, and seriously injured another.

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