HEMPFIELD TOWNSHIP (KDKA/AP) – A man wanted by a federal marshal’s task force surrendered without incident Friday afternoon and was escorted out of a Westmoreland County home in handcuffs by state police, about eight hours after he first refused to come out.
Charles Cottle, 45, of West Homestead, is now facing a string of more than 30 new charges in Westmoreland County, most involving making terroristic threats and unlawful restraint.
State police say Cottle was wanted on a probation or parole violation when Sheriff Department deputies from Allegheny County went to the Hempfield Township townhouse about 7 a.m. Friday.
“When they arrived at the residence, they did encounter the owner, or the renter of the residence. She advised them that Mr. Cottle was inside. They made a verbal contact with him; however, he refused to come out of the residence,” said Trooper Steve Limani, of Pennsylvania State Police.
Police brought in heavy equipment, but it was only after state police fired several rounds of tear gas into the townhouse that Cottle was finally arrested after the daylong standoff. State police say he threatened to shoot anyone who came to arrest him.
“Come on Chuck, we’re here to help you. Your mom wouldn’t want you doing this,” police negotiators called to him.
Cottle was found hiding in a closet, and he had his girlfriend with him, Jasmyn Curry. He refused to let her leave without him. Curry was taken into custody, but she’s not facing charges after she agreed to cooperate with investigators.
“He wasn’t on his meds, and he basically held me in the men’s room for seven and a half hours and he would not let me go,” Curry said.
Curry said Cottle steadfastly refused to let her walk out of the townhouse alone. But she says she still won’t give up on him.
“Because I love him,” said Curry. “I know he can do better with me by his side. He has stage 4, terminal cancer. He has six to eight months to live.”
Nine months ago, Cottle and Curry were barricaded inside a West Homestead house after he allegedly threatened to kill a neighbor. He is awaiting trial on charges of terroristic threats and disorderly conduct stemming from the June 16 incident.
And, in 2008, he was arrested after he walked into a McKeesport bank with a fake bomb strapped to his chest. He held eight people hostage for about two hours during that incident. The violation warrant that authorities were trying to serve to him Friday morning stemmed from that 2008 incident.
Cottle pleaded guilty to having a fake bomb, making a bomb threat, terroristic threats and unlawful restraint. He was eventually sentenced in 2009 to nine to 18 months in the Allegheny County, followed by five years’ probation in that case.
Luckily, no one was hurt in the Hempfield Township standoff Friday.
However, Curry said Cottle wanted the incident to end much differently.
Curry: “He basically told me I couldn’t leave because he wanted them to shoot him first.”
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Cottle was listed on the Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office’s Most Wanted List prior to the standoff on Friday. In addition to the new charges he’s facing, Cottle is also still facing charges in Allegheny County.
Cottle was arraigned overnight. He’s now locked up in the Westmoreland County Prison.
The Hempfield Area School District website said nearby West Hempfield Elementary School was closed down as a precaution. Students were bused to another school, where parents could pick them up. The middle school, which is some distance from the scene, operated normally.
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