Police Fire Tear Gas in Standoff With Armed Man Barricaded in Apartment

A standoff at a Tuscaloosa apartment complex between police and an armed man who allegedly fired shots during a domestic dispute continued into the night Wednesday.

The suspect's mother and dozens of law enforcement officers tried unsuccessfully to convince him to come out. But even after police blasted tear gas into the second-floor apartment in the Downing Place complex, the man remained barricaded inside.

His ex-girlfriend was believed to be in the apartment with him.

Police did not immediately release the names of the man or woman.

Family members of the ex-girlfriend told The Tuscaloosa News they were worried they wouldn't see her again.

A family member told the paper that Sondricka Harris, 24, lived in the apartment off 37th Avenue and had just gotten a restraining order against Jermaine Hargress, 25.

Harris' brother, Lavell Gardner, told the News police said shots had been fired during an argument this afternoon and they weren't sure whether she was still alive.

Police spokesman Robert Fourt told the News the armed standoff started around noon when a woman called to report a domestic dispute and a man took the phone from her. A dispatcher called the number and sent officers to the apartment when no one aswered.

Police tried throughout the afternoon to talk to the man, even raising a telephone into a window using a tall pole. His mother also spoke to him by phone from outside the apartment.

"He's not entirely rational at this point — some of what he says doesn't make a whole lot of sense," Fourt told the News.

Gardner, his sisters, his mother and family friends gathered outside the apartment wating for updates from police. He told the News that his sister and Hargress work at Partlow Developmental Center and have a 3-year-old child together.

As evening fell, people stood waiting in frigid temperatures outside the complex, many of them unable to get to their homes.

Holy Spirit Regional Catholic School, which adjoins the apartment complex, was placed on lock-down in the afternoon. Tuscaloosa City Schools spokeswoman Lesley Bruinton said that students at Skyland and Northington elementary schools and at Paul W. Bryant High School and Eastwood Middle School who live near the apartment complex were kept at school. Students were allowed to go home when their parents arrived to pick them up.