Lehigh Valley

Standoff ends with apparent suicide, hazmat scare in Hellertown

Chemical scare sends neighborhood into lockdown

HELLERTOWN, Pa. - Hellertown police evacuated an entire neighborhood for seven hours Saturday after an apparent suicide led to a toxic chemical scare.

SWAT and HAZMAT crews swarmed the 400 block of Locust Road around 6 a.m.

Police received a 911 call warning that a man was threatening to kill himself inside a home, according to Hellertown police chief Robert Shupp III.

For neighbor Dan Andree, it was a stunning wake-up call.

"I saw the cops coming down the sidewalk with the guns," he said. "They were telling people to back away and stay in their houses and stuff."

Officers quickly smelled toxic chemicals inside the home and evacuated several nearby blocks, including a nearby public library and park.

"He said we had to go back in the house and stay because it could be an explosion," said neighbor Betty Fenstermacher.

Shupp insisted the public was never in danger, and there was no risk of an explosion.

"The HAZMAT situation was contained to one house," he said. "There is no immediate threat to the public."

Neighbors said the man, in his early 20s, lived with his mother. 69 News does not release the names of suicide victims.

"This morning, we heard a mother on a loudspeaker, asking her son to come out," said Andree.

Next door neighbor Kelly Albertson heard the pleas too.

"[She said], 'Just please come out. You're not going to get hurt,'" said Albertson.

The victim died from asphyxiation, according to Northampton Co. coroner Zachary Lysek.

Albertson said she knew of no problems in the household.

"No, just a quiet kid," she said. "Kind of stuck to himself. Mom's really nice."

One small miracle? Two family dogs were rescued unharmed, including a lab named "Lucky."

Police said no one else in the home was harmed. Residents were allowed back in their homes around 1 p.m.

This Week's Circulars

Lehigh Valley News

Latest From The Newsroom