December 27, 2008, Mansfield Township, New Jersey – A mentally disturbed Iraq War veteran who dialed 911 Friday morning claiming he’d shot two people kept officers at bay during an ensuing two-hour standoff, police said.
Richard Toth, 30, made the 911 call — determined to be a fabrication — at 9:53 a.m. from his second-floor Mansfield Village apartment, township police Detective Sgt. Robert Emery said.
Police responded and evacuated the building and neighboring apartments in the sprawling complex off Route 57 and established a security perimeter.
The Warren County Tactical Response Team also responded and township Patrolman Jeffrey Conklin, who had had past contact with Toth, talked to him via telephone during negotiations that led to his noontime surrender, Emery said.
Toth allegedly threatened to shoot police and take his own life during phone conversations with a 911 operator.
Police said they did not recover any weapons except for a large kitchen knife Toth held when tactical response officers entered Toth’s apartment to arrest him.
Toth did not threaten the officers with the knife, police said.
Authorities had no details immediately available on Toth’s military service. Efforts failed to reach family for comment.
“There wasn’t anyone there who wasn’t touched by this situation,” Emery said of the incident. Toth “was over there fighting for his country and now this.”
Police reportedly responded to Toth’s apartment Wednesday for a psychiatric emergency call. Details about that call were not released.
Police and rescue squad members transported Toth to Warren Hospital, Phillipsburg, for a mental health evaluation after his surrender.
He is charged with making terroristic threats, and a judge set bail at 10 percent of $50,000. The mental health evaluation is a bail condition, and the judge will review the results of that evaluation before Toth is released, authorities said.
Emery said no victims were in the apartment where Toth lives alone, leading police to conclude he didn’t shoot anyone.
Police said no one was injured during the incident.
Emergency responders transported tenants temporarily displaced by the evacuation to a shelter set up at the nearby Tri-County Fire Department.
Officers from the Hackettstown, Independence Township and the Washington Township, Morris County, police department assisted Mansfield Township police.
Members of the Warren County Prosecutor’s Office responded, as did a field communications unit from the Warren County Department of Public Safety.
Tri-County and Hackettstown firefighters also responded, along with township rescue squad members.
Reporter Tom Quigley can be reached at 610-258-7171, Ext. 3574, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org